By now, most children in Texas have returned to school, while many parents are feeling the stress of managing busy fall schedules. This is especially true for single parents, who have to take on many of the duties themselves.
Here are five ways single parents can help remove some of the stress that comes along with getting into a new routine this school year:
1. Get organized.
Put together a schedule that will keep everyone on track, including the kids. The schedule should have a set time for waking up, breakfast, catching the bus, afterschool snacks, homework, bedtime and any other activities that need to be added.
Thinking all at once about everything that needs to be done and all the places people need to be during the week can be overwhelming, but getting a schedule in place can take away a lot of the stress and guesswork.
The schedule should be posted in the kitchen or another central location, where everyone can see it.
2. Stay healthy.
Reuniting with classmates and teachers often means new germs will be brought home. In order to avoid getting sick, which is an added stress you don't need, encourage the kids to stay healthy by:
- Washing hands regularly
- Eating healthy foods
- Getting to bed early
Parents can do all of the above, as well, to keep their own immune systems strong and resilient.
3. Take advantage of extra programs.
One of the hardest parts of being a busy, single parent is feeling like you can't do it all; and one of the most important parts is accepting that this is okay. Instead of beating yourself up or running yourself ragged, ask for help.
Most school districts have plenty of resources for busy parents, and it is smart to take advantage whenever possible. This might include breakfast in the school cafeteria, afterschool activities or tutoring. Ask the school for information on the programs available.
4. Work together.
Whenever possible, share back-to-school parenting duties with the other parent or grandparents. Make sure that everyone who is playing a role in your child's life is up to speed on the new schedule, and if they offer to help, accept it. Just make sure that the child's school knows about any adults who should (or should not) have access to your child.
5. Revisit custody/support orders.
Child custody arrangements don't always stand the test of time. Sometimes, they need to be modified in order to accommodate children who are getting older. For example, when children reach school age, it may no longer make sense to go back-and-forth between parents during the school week.
Additionally, kids get more expensive as they get older, and if you are having trouble making ends meet, it might be time to ask for additional child support, especially if the custody arrangement has changed.
However, remember that the court always needs to be updated when a child custody arrangement or child support payments are going to change. A family law attorney can help you make sure that these modifications are done right.