By: Julia Rodgers
It’s time for back to school! Kids are often excited for a new school year to begin, with a new class, new friends, and new teachers. For recently divorced parents in Massachusetts, the start of a new school year can also be a new beginning- and sometimes an especially difficult one. As a parent dealing with a new routine and co-parenting issues, it is natural to feel many mixed emotions during this transition. While the start of a new school year can be trying and difficult, there are also ways to view these new routines as positive changes. Below, we identify three tips that may help you navigate the emotions, anxiety, and stress that can arise as children go back to school. Although this time of year can be stressful, with a little planning and preparation, the transition can be a smooth and positive one. Here are a few tips to help you prepare:
Make sure there are clear lines of communication with your ex-spouse.
Sure, this is easier said than done, especially while a divorce is pending. However, making sure that you and your ex have a plan with regard to communication around about child and school-related issues is the key to success. In some cases, a co-parenting program to help you organize and communicate, like OurFamilyWizard or 2Houses, can be incredibly beneficial.
Talk to Your Children.
Divorce can be stressful on children- add in a new school year, and household anxiety can increase dramatically. As a parent, you can help ease this transition by merely opening the lines of communication. Talk with your children about what concerns them, what they are most looking forward to, and what their goals are for the new year. Of course, you cannot wholly alleviate a child’s stress surrounding a divorce coupled with a new school year, but ensuring that the right support system is available to them (think: time with friends, a child therapist, your availability to talk when needed), can help tremendously[i]. When children feel supported and well-adjusted, they tend to feel more confident and less anxious, which may lead to higher grades, and a healthy adjustment to the new school year and into their new life.
Take Care of Yourself!
Many divorcing parents are so focused on the wellbeing of their children during this transition, that they forget to take care of themselves. There is nothing more important than indulging in some much-needed self-care; emotionally and physically. This could include watching a movie, going to a salon or spa, spending time catching up with friends, or just taking a personal day. Taking care of yourself will help you become a better parent, because you will be better equipped to handle the day-to-day stressors and challenges that arise while co-parenting throughout the school year.
In that same vein, talking to a trusted friend or your therapist can be a tremendously useful tool for self-care. Research shows that talk therapy can rewire the brain and help show significant improvement with emotional wounds[ii]. A highly trained and experienced therapist can you learn coping mechanisms to handle stress and anxiety thatcan arise during a divorce and co-parenting scenarios.
[i] Butler, I., Scanlan, L., Robinson, M., Douglas, G., & Murch, M. (2002). Children's Involvement in their Parents' Divorce: Implications for Practice. Children & Society , 16, 89-102. doi:10.1002/CHI.702
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Julia Rodgers is the firm's business director. You can read her full bio here. To speak with a lawyer about divorce, paternity, or child custody matter, contact Mavrides Law in Boston, Newton, or Wellesley, MA. To schedule an in-depth initial consultation, call 617-723-9900 or contact the firm at firstname.lastname@example.org