The early bird gets the worm!
Tips for managing the back to school transition for separated parents
Dan Buckley, Legal Partner
As the Christmas holidays draw near, so too does the new school year. A time full of excitement and a little nervousness for the newbies starting school and the others that will transition into the next grade and a fresh group of classmates.
Ensuring that any transition is seamless, supportive and a fun time for children is a parent’s only wish. Unfortunately, for some separated families, achieving this can be at times challenging if not a downright painful experience. Adopting an approach of open communication both with your former partner and the children, together with planning and preparing can certainly ease the stresses during this period.
Here are some helpful tips which we hope will make back to school cool in 2017:
- Touch base
Try to arrange a catch up prior to the school term commencing or at least talk to each other so you can work out whose doing what in the new year. The OCD types like me would suggest drawing up a joint calendar and diarising the young social butterflies’ schedules.
This simple catch up sets the tune for a seamless transition into the new school year ensuring you are both on the same page and otherwise allowing you each to communicate same to the children.
- Keeping the school informed
Keep the school informed and updated in relation to any changes in the parenting arrangements or with respect to your contact details. This enables them to ensure that both parents are able to be contacted and otherwise kept abreast in relation to the children’s progress, development and any events or activities that are being organised.
Don’t mistake school teachers as arbiters of any dispute between parents. They certainly do not want to be a parent’s go-between and this in itself may have the chances of compromising your children’s overall experience at school.
- Moving between two homes
We all know the never ending purchases required for children including uniforms, lunch boxes, shoes, school bags with kids loosing items let alone growing out of them or if homework seems to keep getting misplaced (or eaten by the dog)!
Consider whether it may be beneficial to have two sets of the children’s daily bits and pieces for school and extracurricular activities at each parent’s house. Whilst this can be a little onerous on the bank balance, it ensures that as a parent you are well equipped to tackle those busy kids diaries and routines. Alternatively, it may be beneficial to give older children some responsibility and routine in relation to packing their necessary belongings for school to ensure that they have the right things at the right time.
- Managing expenses
With busy diaries comes a long list of expenses. Even the basic schools lists these days are a few pages long, not to mention the seasonal costs of extra-curricular activities and excursions. Whilst child support may assist to some degree, it does not attempt to cater for these extra costs having just come out of the Christmas period and it can become overwhelming.
As parents, wanting to provide the children with the best opportunities comes with costs but this doesn’t necessarily mean the burden bears on one parent only. Have a discussion about what activities the kids wish to be involved in (or vice versa) and try to develop a plan on how to handle these costs in a fair and appropriate manner.
Keep informed, interested and involved – your kids will thank you for it later and hopefully, as Dr Seuss said, Kid you’ll move mountains.
We know how important your children are to you and making sure they are cared for needs to be in the hands of someone who will take the time to understand your personal situation and how it interacts with the law is essential. If you need to consider your parenting arrangement or child support in the new year contact our team of family law experts in Brisbane and Toowoomba to make an appointment.
Brisbane: 07 3210 0281
Toowoomba: 07 4639 0000