Disclaimer :: While this article uses the two-parent household from her own experience, these tips can apply to single parents and other guardians or co-parenting situations. It’s all about finding more than one person to help manage the ins and outs of school life.
Parents spend a lot of time researching schooling options, the best deals on school supplies, and thinking through how to prep their kids for the start of school — and rightly so. However, I’ve found, in my now more-than-a-decade of mothering, that very few parents prepare themselves for the changes that come with the start of school.
And I don’t mean bringing tissues to the first day of drop off. I mean actually thinking through the ins and outs of how this will impact your daily lives — and who will handle which tasks. This applies to parents who have kids starting the first day of daycare to kindergarten allll the way to high school. (My mister and I will go over these things again as we have a new middle schooler.)
By discussing before the school year starts, it can help everyone feel confident and clear in their understanding of who does what and when. It can also prevent resentment and misunderstanding about unspoken expectations. (Who knows what I’m talking about?) It’s also important to point out that you can have these conversations at any time. Situations may come up where who does what needs to be tweaked. And that’s okay!
Division of Responsibilities
Here’s a tip: Do more than verbally assign the tasks. Make it a visual exercise. Whether it is a white board, a piece of paper, sticky notes, a chart, whatever your creative heart wants, visually list out the tasks for each person, so there is a visual representation of what each person is taking on. Not only does it show you how much you’ve taken on, but how much your partner will do as well. You can leave this as a visual reminder throughout the year, or toss it when you’re done.
Other people can help with these responsibilities too — even your own children! Can you carpool? Will your child attend after-school care? Will you use a tutor?
>> RELATED READ :: How We’re Preparing Our Child (and Ourselves) for Kindergarten <<
There is no right or wrong way to juggle this, but making a plan and knowing who is doing what will make the school year less stressful. Trust me.
Decide who . . .
- Takes and picks up from school and/or any extracurricular activities?
- Handles homework?
- Handles projects?
- Handles reading goals, parent paperwork, and signs logs?
- Manages and/or attends school activities (parties, class plays, etc.) and field trips?
- Participates in class and/or school functions (the PTA, after-hours events, etc.)?
- Is the point parent when it comes to communication with the teacher(s) and/or administration?
- Preps and packs for school lunches and/or snacks (including grocery shopping)?
- Manages laundry for school clothes, backpacks, etc.?
- Manages and purchases needed school supplies?
- Keeps track of the school calendar and special days (like crazy sock day, field day, etc.)?
- Adjusts schedules when a child needs to come home from school or is home sick from school?
Understand the Whys
It’s a lot with just one kid in school, but it becomes something else when there are more than one in school — with differing homework and projects and fields trips, etc. The more kids in school, I think, the more crucial it becomes to have this sorted out sooner rather than later.
If you find that one person is shouldering more of the responsibility than the other, consider these questions:
- Why is one parent taking on more tasks? Thoroughly shift through that question. Do you both agree and accept the reasons?
- What tasks can be removed so that the primary “school” parent can have margin to handle the new responsibilities added to his or her plate?
Here’s to hoping these questions will jumpstart conversations in your family that will get everyone on the same page and set the stage for a great school year!