Crafting a Back-to-School Parenting Plan

This time of year means a lot of schedule changes for families in Alabama. School is back in session and kids are off to school and have extracurricular activities to attend to. All the freedom and time off that comes with the summer months has come to an end which means families need to adjust to new schedules.

When you’re divorced or separated with a child between you and your ex, the situation can be a bit more tricky. You’ve likely already established custody and visitation rights through the courts, but it’s important to take a collaborative approach to make sure our children are able to take advantage of all the opportunities in front of them right now. There are a few ways to make sure everybody gets what they need, even if it doesn’t mean making full adjustments to the visitation schedule.

Put your children first

This is the first and most important factor of an effective parenting plan at any time of the year. It might be easy to look at your own schedule and default to working around that, but parents need to make sacrifices from time to time. This includes adjusting your schedule when possible to make sure you’re able to be there for your children when they need you. This may mean getting out a little early to get your kid to football practice, or taking a long lunch to attend a class presentation.

It’s important for both parents to communicate what they can and can’t do during this time of year so that when emergencies pop up it’s clear who is capable of taking on the responsibility. The bonus here is that if you’re not the custodial parent and have limited visitation you can boost your reputation with your ex and with the courts by being flexible and taking on tasks for your children when the custodial parent is unable to do so.

Have a schedule

Thankfully, most school schedules and activities are consistent. Your child is likely going to need to get to and from school at the same time almost every weekday, and if they’re on sports teams or in afterschool programs then those will generally follow a similarly consistent schedule.

You should either sit down or get on the phone with the other parent and determine who is going to handle what on which days. A schedule is better than just winging it because that can expose you both to situations where neither parent is available, leaving your child to fend for themselves or to be with someone else.

It may even be worth considering using an online schedule that both parents have access to ensure everybody is on the same page. This also allows you both to make adjustments when needed without counting on memory or our own notes.

It’s important to be flexible and to be present. We need to be there for our children as they grow because we’ll never get this time back. They’ll appreciate it when you attend their band concert or are in the stands for their big game. If both parents can’t be at the same place at the same time then acknowledge this and pay attention to the schedule.

Allow time for both parents to help with schoolwork

Education should be priority number one for our growing children. They’re learning so much right now and they’re going to need help sifting through it all. It’s important to be a part of this growth process – and both parents should be a part of this.

The schedule you craft should allow time for both parents to sit down with your children to work on homework and projects. If our children see us taking an active role in their education then it becomes more enjoyable, emphasizes collaboration, and can strengthen our relationship with our children.

These are just a few of the many important steps you can take to craft an ideal parenting plan for you and your children. This plan can prevent troubling situations for the family and allow your children to focus on their own education.

If you need help or are dealing with a particularly difficult ex who isn’t following your visitation or custody order then contact John M. Totten, P.C. Parenting is one of the most fulfilling challenges we take on in our lives. It’s important to get it right and to protect our role in our children’s lives.

John M. Totten