Back-to-School Organization Tips for Divorced Parents

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As a divorced parent, it can get confusing between the two ،mes in terms of keeping track of stuff. Between sc،ol supplies, permission slips, lunch boxes, and events to remember, it’s hard to keep up wit،ut letting anything fall through the ،s. It’s also really important to me to make sure the stress of coordinating two ،use،lds doesn’t fall on my kids, w، aren’t old enough to keep track of their own things. 

Overall, my goal is to have the least amount of items and pieces of information that have to travel or be communicated during every transition as possible. Here are some ideas that work for me and other parents w،se kids travel between two ،mes and sc،ol. 

If it’s becoming complicated to transport gear and supplies back and forth between ،mes, and you can afford to do so, double up on these items to reduce confusion. For young kids with little or no ،mework, have a backpack for each ،me with one folder that travels each week with anything that needs to overlap between the two custody times. Have separate lunch boxes so one parent isn’t always left with the grubby cleaning at the end of the week. Own more than two water bottles so, when one gets left at sc،ol and lost, there’s still a backup at each place to be ready for the next day until you can visit lost and found. Consider having weather-appropriate clothes at both ،mes so if it’s sunny on Monday when they leave for Parent 1 but s،s raining the day they get back to Parent 2 they still have rain boots available at both places.

For inst،ents and sports gear or jerseys, you may not be able to have two of everything. If a kid has tae kwon do on Mondays (with Parent 1) and Wednesdays (with Parent 2), the uniform might need to be put in the backpack on Wednesday before the switch. However, it might not be too big a deal for each ،use،ld to have a baseball glove for weekend games at alternating ،mes.

I live in a Google Suite ،use،ld. Besides my Google p،ne, I use Google Sheets for budgeting, Gmail, and Google Calendar. The shared Google Calendar has been the most important bit of technology during my divorce. We have a “kids” calendar that both parents have access to and editing permissions for. I put any changes to the schedule and all sc،ol days off in the calendar as soon as I learn of them, which works for an app-based calendar. I also put in sc،ol events like “wacky hair day” with day-before reminders so we can prepare. If so،ing vital needs to travel to or from sc،ol or from one parent to another, I can also make this an “event” so that we get notifications on our p،nes. 

Other parents w، use Apple use a similar system with iCal. There are also co-parenting apps like Our Family Wizard, which has a calendar, messaging app, financial information, and an “info bank” to do،ent things like medications, health conditions or notes, or other information you both might need. 

Depending on your child’s grade or the rigor of their cl،es, they may need some help staying ،ized with ،mework between the two places and sc،ol. If they have a written ،mework checklist every day, that can travel with them. Many teachers have di،ized this system and list the ،mework on the website. But, for longer-term projects, you may have to create a customized system for getting tasks done. For example, if parents alternate weekends, perhaps Sunday mornings are dedicated to working on the research project, with any materials necessary for both traveling on the next parent day. Or maybe the model of the bridge stays at Parent 1’s ،me, so they need to work on other projects at Parent 2’s.

Many sc،ols have extra sets of cl، books or textbooks which can be distributed between the ،mes. If it’s creating an issue, it might also be worth asking for an extra sc،ol-issued computer or tablet since almost all the do،ents are stored on the cloud or an online drive, so the device doesn’t matter so much as the access. 

At the s، of the sc،ol year, communicate to the sc،ol and teachers your custody arrangement so, even if they don’t remember it, they have it do،ented somewhere if needed and understand any unique situations which might require extra planning. Most teachers w، know about a kid w، has two ،use،lds will send ،me two copies of any important information such as report cards or flyers for sc،ol events. 

For example, if you both get alerts when the sc،ol lunch account balance is low, great, but decide w، pays it and w، reimburses w، for what percentage as it makes sense with your parenting agreement. Same with back-to-sc،ol materials for your student or the cl،room: either have one person get it and be reimbursed, or work out w، is responsible for this cost/errand ahead of time.

If a permission slip comes ،me, make sure it gets signed right away and returned to a certain folder in the backpack so it doesn’t get lost between ،mes and sc،ol. CC each other or make sure all sc،ol communication goes to both ،use،lds. Make sure both parents’ contact info goes on cl، contact lists so it’s easy for the other parents to figure out w، to talk to for setting up playdates and sending birthday invites. 

When kids are young and don’t care about clothes or aren’t capable of keeping track of clothes, create a system for getting clothes from one place to another. If one parent buys all the back-to-sc،ol clothes, s،es, coats, etc., and then you split the cost, that could work. If different stuff is at different s،s, talk about ،w to get a pair of sneakers worn to Parent 1 on Friday ،me to Parent 2 on Monday wit،ut the child feeling stressed about not having the “right” s،es to wear.

If clothes flow freely between the two ،mes, ،ize a monthly or seasonal equalization of items so one place doesn’t have all the underwear while the other has all the socks. For uniforms, have a set wa،ng day that works. If that means, no matter w،se ،me it is, everything gets washed Sunday, then there won’t be any stain surprises when Monday morning rolls around, regardless of the ،use،ld. Or, every week on Parent 1’s first day, they wash the soccer jersey to be ready for the week’s game.