New Year, new ways to Organize!!
Sometimes organizing a post divorce family schedule can be a real challenge! Here are some tips and resources to make post divorce life a little easier on you and your kids.
Getting everyone on the same page:
No matter how good your intentions are, if you aren’t communicating about your plans, your organization efforts will hit a brick wall. You can definitely do a little online homework in advance, but then it’s time to talk.
- List it out! Have everyone make a list about things they would like to get organized. Some good examples are scheduled, appointment planning, packing, homework information. “Everyone,” means all the people who are involved on a daily or weekly basis with your family’s schedule. This may include you, your ex spouse, your kids (even little ones,) Step Parents, significant others, daycare providers, teachers, grandparents and family friends.
Compare & Discover! Once everyone has created their organization wish list it’s time to match them up. This can be done as a group or individual. For post divorce families with good communication, doing this together is a great way to learn together. For those who are a bit communication challenged, don’t fret, this can be a job for one.
- Share the results! What are the most common organisations in your post divorce family? Where there any surprises? Making a master list of the results can help make the next steps easier. Be sure to include at least one item from each person’s list. This ensures everyone is feeling heard. Feeling heard is a great incentive to get follow through from the entire family. If someone feels left out or unheard it can lead to resentment and frustration – both giant roadblocks to organization success.
The results are in…what’s next?
Now it’s time to transform your master organization wish list into an action plan! Just like every post divorce family is different, so are their organization wishes and needs. Here are a few examples and resources to help create your action plan and keep it going throughout the New Year and beyond!
Was creating an easy-to-follow parenting time schedule a top priority?
- Try one of the many free and easy to use websites and apps available. A couple we find helpful are Our Family Wizard and Cozi. Each have some up-sell options but both offer free sharable calendars.
- Many smartphones come equipped with calendars that have invite and share options but be sure to research the features or you can end up sharing your personal appointments with everyone, including your ex spouse. Here are some easy instructions for IPhone and Google/Samsung phones.
Are people missing school events or medical appointments?
- Sure, these can be added to a family calendar it can also be as simple as having a group text in your phone. If Grandma empties the backpack and discovers Sally Sue will be singing in the holiday concert she can message the entire group to ensure everyone has the correct info.
- Perhaps Stepmom is the go-to gal for taking Jake to his dentist appointment. How about a group email with an update on how it went and when his follow-up appointment is?
- Daytime chorus concert and only Lori, the daycare provider can make it? Maybe she’d be willing to video the event (or at least your child’s part) and share it via email or a private social media group.
Packing – Are the kids always forgetting things?
- Try making a list of must-have items, placing them in a waterproof ziplock bag and pinning it to the outside of your child’s bag or suitcase. Not only does this prevent multiple trips between houses to retrieve items, it also helps you child build their own organization skills and builds self sufficiency.
- Agree on a “I forgot” plan. This can build responsibility. If your child knows they only get one retrieval trip per week your child will quickly learn to double check items prior to leaving the house. Be mindful, however, that everyone needs a break sometimes. If Jillian spent two weeks working on a project and had to rush to pack because her little brother had to get to soccer you may need to make an exception. Please note this may take a period of adjustment, be patient.
My kids are struggling with their schedule…
While organization is great for adults, it’s an absolute necessity for our kids! Think it’s stressful balancing kids and work and appointments? Now imagine you are a little child… you can’t drive, you have very little control over the changes that have happened in your family. They need us to give them the tools and skills to maintain their own level of control over their life. So how can we help them get organized?
- Paper calendars – Having a visual can help even the smallest child stay organized. Try printing a month calendar of their schedule to display at each house. You can color code it to show tiny ones which house they are at on any given day and mark off days past so they understand what day it is. For nervous children you can even give copies to teachers, daycare workers or keep one in their backpack. Contact us and request a free word template.
- Double up – If you have shared custody it is vitally important your children have to do as little packing as possible. Try keeping things like pajamas, slippers, underwear, socks and sometimes even duplicates of favorite toys and books at both homes. This will mean less packing and less forgotten items as your kids transition. This can reduce the stress for everyone!
The most important tool for staying organized in a post divorce family? It’s Communication. Looking for assistance getting into a healthy post divorce groove? Contact The Guidance Office at 860-305-9400 and set up your free consultation.