Nervous About the First Day of School?

Understanding new roles after a divorce can be difficult enough without fresh wounds to add to the mix. Everyone knows that setting our differences aside and putting our children first is of huge import to our child’s emotional and scholastic success, but everyone also knows that it’s easier said than done.

Statistically, a child whose parents are divorced is more likely to do poorly in school. Creating an environment that promotes positive growth in your child is a difficult and scary task, but one that is paramount to their success. Remember that plenty of children do very well with divorced parents –  and *ahem* If you're looking for evidence, many go on to at least work in family law.

If your child isn’t the only one with jitters about returning to school, here are some tips that have helped other parents.


Parents have a ton on their minds. Between leading independent lives as adults and the strains of a professional environment, most adults have enough to fill their plates. Adding the chaos of children and a recent separation to that mix is hard for anyone to adjust to. Creating a schedule that both parents try their hardest to stick to (let’s face it – life happens) lets everyone settle into a rhythm that can become a natural part of life in a surprisingly quick time.

Whether that means different bus routes on different days, a different car for your child to look out for after the final bell, or some combination thereof, the lives of all parties will be easier to manage if they know what to expect.

Keeping a shared calendar that is regularly checked and updated can do wonders for minimizing the stress of scheduling if both parents can commit to keeping up with it. Maintaining track of your own life is hard enough without having to know which days your child has soccer practice and which weekends a game might be on. There are a number of online resources for this that can keep our hair attached to our heads.

Dealing with the Unexpected

No matter how consistent we are, humans make mistakes. And as smart and wonderful as they are, even your children are subject to this scientific law.

Make sure that your child knows exactly how to reach you and be sure that you are available during that time to be able to help your child if they’ve made a mistake, especially in the first few months of a new schedule.

Be ready for the news that your child is on the wrong school bus or has missed their ride. This may come in the form of a strange phone number from a concerned parent or bus driver, or another child.

Creating a stable environment can do wonders for keeping your own and your child’s stress levels manageable and generally will help with the success for each of you.

Back-to-School Supplies

Coordinating which parent is responsible for which elements of their child’s back-to-school needs can save time, headaches, and irritating overlap without communication. But organizing which parent should get pencils and which should buy the calculator can quickly turn into a bit of a headache. It may be easiest to have one parent responsible for clothing and one for school supplies.

A child should have one backpack that stays with them all of the time with everything they need for school. This keeps their school supplies in one place that is easy to remember when they leave one house.

Parent-Teacher Conferences

Hopefully, these will be glowing commendations of your child’s brilliance, but they may not always be. 

It’s important to remember to keep things in perspective. Know that while a recent divorce is a hurdle for all parties, many separated families use this opportunity to provide wonderful new environments for their children to thrive in. If your child is having trouble at school, the a recent separation should be something to consider but not the default reason for any issues your child may have.

If it’s at all possible, meetings with your child’s teachers should be attended by both parents. From a child’s perspective, knowing that both parents are equally invested in their scholastic life is huge to their success. If only one parent is able to make it, it may feel strange, but taking notes on the meeting will help when they eventually have to communicate the important parts of the meeting to their ex-spouse.

If both parents can show up to meetings like these and remember that they’re on the same team, it’s a great step toward the continued success of your child’s progress in school and mental health.

Room for Error

It’s true. Your child, like all children, will make mistakes and need to be approached with an open mind. But many parents dealing with the stress and emotional insanity of a recent separation need to be reminded that their child isn’t the only human in the equation.

We all make mistakes and need to change our course from time to time and giving yourself a little wiggle room is something that might be important to keep in mind as well.

It’s rarely an easy transition, for parents or children, but with some work and a lot of mindfulness, parents can make sure that they limit any negative effects on their children or themselves, and find that at the end of this large adjustment, it was all for the best.

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