As many of your children are getting ready to go back to school, the shuffling to and from co-parents’ houses, school, and extracurricular activities can be disorienting for children of blended families. To help, we’ve put together top tips to assist co-parents in blended families as suggested by Kate Chapman, co-parent specialist, mother of a blended family and founder of This Life in Progress site and blog:
In blended families, make sure that each parent is “running point.”
In a household with multiple children, set up a plan where one parent can handle schedules for their children and the co-parent can set up schedules for their household. Take this example of one blended family: There might be six kids under one roof with the mother keeping track of all aspects for her children. This includes schedules, appointments, school plans, and recreational activities. Then, each co-parent of those children communicates with the mother, in this example, for their children’s schedules. This reduces conflict among the children. Each child knows who to go to (mom) about their schedules and they also know what is established, such as certain rules.
Establishing rules in blended families is key.
Both co-parents need to be straight on the game plan and get very clear on what you would say “no” to. Don’t just think about activities. Get very clear on what the budget is. If you buy one child a toy, guess what? You have to buy all the children toys. Also, a child may think they can go to one coParent to get a toy after the other says no. Each coParent must stand strong in this.
Be aligned behind the scenes.
At night, before the kids get up for the next day, plan and discuss the tomorrow’s schedule. Plan ahead and get agreement between the coParents. Communication with your coParent doesn’t have to take a long time. You can communicate through the coParenter app quickly and easily, through text, or a short phone call. Choose one that is going to work for you and your co-parent. This small amount of time you take every day will pay off with fewer headaches and miscommunications in the long run. Also, take time behind the scenes to take care of yourself and each other, compassionately. Take time to recharge, check on each other as parents and coParents. If one is burned out, step in.
Be mindful of the emotions of each family member.
Back-to-school is a milestone for some people. This may bring up strong emotions, especially when mom or dad is in another house. They may miss them and the celebration. There could be eight people in a blended family, all different ages, who actively grieve the absence of their “first” family. Be mindful of where each family member is. Don’t feel as if you need to forge ahead quickly and accomplish everything.