September 2006 - Back to School,
Back to Schedules
As your child heads back to school, this is a good time
to re-evaluate and tweak your parenting schedule. Fall is a time of fresh starts
and new beginnings and a chance to get organized in all aspects of your life.
If your child is starting school, it will be an adjustment for all of you. Your
ex may have had mid-week visitation and this may become more difficult. If your
child has always slept over at the other parent’s house mid-week, continuing
this will offer a sense of continuity, as long as getting the child to and from
school is easy. Midweek evening visits may need to be adjusted for earlier bedtimes.
Getting used to a school schedule takes time. If your child
was not in preschool, none of you are used to your child being away all day.
Even if your child went to preschool, real school is now mandatory, whereas
you could pull your child out of preschool on a whim. It’s important that
your child have the opportunity to sleep well at night, eat a healthy breakfast,
and have time after school to unwind. This may mean adjusting your visitation
schedule. Allowing longer, less frequent visits can sometimes help. Instead
of seeing the other parent three times a week, a schedule that allows for alternate
weekends might make more sense now.
After School Activities
After school activities are one of the biggest curveballs your visitation plan
will be facing. It’s important to find a balance that allows your child
the opportunity to explore and develop his or her interests, while also finding
time to spend with the non-custodial parent. Sit down with a calendar and see
how the activities fall and compare this to your planned visitation schedule.
It is perfectly ok for a child to have a scheduled activity during the non-custodial
parent’s planned time, as long as that parent is able to handle the necessary
Having both parents involved in the child’s activities
is the ideal plan. However, depending on the scheduling, it might make sense
for the non-custodial parent to be in charge of something like dance classes,
which generally happen on a single scheduled day per week, and have the custodial
parent manage an activity such as soccer which might have games and practices
scheduled at unpredictable times and places. Having one parent in charge of
an activity does not mean the other can’t come and watch and cheer.
As school starts up, so too does the homework load. Both parents should participate
in homework if possible. This can be done by making sure that the parent the
child is with supervises that day’s homework. Things can get confusing
with work going to both households and it takes organizational skills to make
sure everything gets done and is returned to school on time. You might also
make arrangements for one parent to handle projects in certain subject matters
that match that parent’s area of expertise.
Going to school is hard work and kids need to be able to focus their energies
on learning. Minimizing family stress can help your child do his or her best
in school. Try to keep the visitation schedule running smoothly with as little
ups and downs as possible. Having a regular schedule will help your child feel
secure and best able to succeed in school.