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jimdahl

Back to school!

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Back to school time brings all sorts of coparenting challenges and opportunities to do what's best for your kids! I'll try to post some tips in this thread as August goes on. Of course, everyone's situation is different, so if any of the suggestions below seems to contradict your situation or exclude you, just remember that the point is doing what's best for the kids!

Share in school events - It would be great if both parents could make it to the band concert, the school performance, or the award ceremony. If sitting together works for you, that can send a nice message that you overlook your differences to support your kids. But if it would lead to conflict, it's ok to sit apart! If one parent can't make it, or you feel you must take turns, keep the other parent in the loop (as much as you can) on special events (e.g. send a photo, let the parent who isn't there share a call or a text with the kid).

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Posted (edited)

Share school information - When parents live in two different houses, it requires coordination to ensure that both see school-related communications. The school probably mails things to one house, emails one parent, and sends homework, grades, and information about school events home with the kids. It's important to give both parents an opportunity to see that information, regardless of who it came to. Having a shared email account that is used for the kids' school and activities is a much more reliable way to make sure communications go to both parents than forwarding emails to each other. But, you still have to have a scheme to share information that comes home with the kids. You can send immediate photos of everything that comes home via text or coparenting apps, and send hardcopies of schoolwork or school flyers back and forth in a folder that always goes back and forth with the kids between houses.

Edited by jimdahl

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Plan for unexpected expenses - If you have a parenting agreement, it probably addresses how to handle educational expenses, but unexpected expenses could arise that aren't specifically accounted for. You should have a plan, preferably in a written agreement, on how to deal with those expenses. You might split them as per your agreement (whether 50-50, proportional to income, or other), but also probably need some way to limit expenses and give each parent control over how much they spend. Some recommend contributing to a joint account that's used to pay extra expenses (when the agreed upon amount is used up, paying for additional expenses would be up to the parent). If you communicate and get along well you could just agree on each expense as it comes up (either instantly reimbursing the other parent using something like Venmo, PayPal, or Apple Pay, or keeping a log of each parents' expenses in an app or a simple Google Docs spreadsheet and settling up once a month).

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Establish consistent routines - As much as possible, the kids should know who's going to be picking them up from school and where they're going after school each day. If the children spend some school nights with each parent, having similar structure around the evening and morning will further help the kids feel comfortable and know what to expect. Homework, screen time, chores, and bedtimes are among the topics coparents can discuss and make similar across the kids' homes.

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Help the kids to communicate with the other parent - This generally applies any time of year. But, when you pick your kids up from school, the first thing you probably ask them is what happened at school that day. If you can find a way (the logistics probably depend on the age of the child and the relationship with the coparent), letting the kids share the most exciting immediate news with the other parent really helps establish that you're both involved in their lives. That could be a text message, a phone call, or a Skype or FaceTime session.

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