Navigating starting school or the return to school is a challenge in any household but for single parents it can be especially overwhelming. If you’re co-parenting and juggling school logistics between two homes, there is even more to consider. Here are some back to school tips for single parents that should make the return to school run a little more smoothly.
It’s easy to get caught up in enjoying the last of the summer holidays and leave everything until the last minute (guilty!) but really preparation and organisation are the key to back to school success. The last thing you need is to find out on the first morning of school that their shoes are at the other parent’s house!
Do as much as possible in advance – make sure uniforms are washed and easy to find, new shoes are ready to go, and bags are packed. The night before, make sure everything is ready for lunch boxes and your kids know where to find everything they need in the morning.
Get your child(ren) to help
I make sure my kids are responsible for doing as much as possible when they’re getting ready for school in the mornings. You might call it laziness, but I call it building independence! They each have a magnetic planner for the fridge with a tile for each thing they need to do. They move each tile across to the ‘done’ space once it’s completed. These have been a real game-changer for us on school mornings. Check them out here.
I HATE cooking so I batch cook a bunch of things for lunch boxes (scrolls, quiches, muffins etc.) so I don’t have to do it very often. This means they can just pull things out of the freezer for their lunchbox each morning and are not reliant on me making food for them every day. They can then add fresh fruit and veg from the fridge and are good to go.
Create a system
One of the hardest parts of organising kids across two homes is keeping track of where school items, uniforms, sports gear, musical instruments and shoes end up! It’s a lot of responsibility for younger kids to have to remember all their stuff, so one of my best back-to-school tips for single parents is to try to arrange a system with your co-parent that makes you both responsible for ensuring things are in the right home when they need to be. And remember to double-check things are actually in the bag they’re supposed to be in before you leave!
Do whatever you can to simplify communication between you, your co-parent, your kids and the school. Start by explaining your situation to the school and ensuring that your co-parent receives a copy of all the communication you do so you’re not responsible for relaying messages. A co-parenting app or shared calendar can also make it much easier to keep track of non-uniform days, sports activities, cake sales, appointments and the hundreds of other requirements that come with school-aged kids.
Come together when it counts
Starting with the first day of kindergarten, your child’s school career will be filled with important milestones. If you can come together as co-parents on the days when it counts to show your child you both care, it’s one of the best gifts you can give them. It’s not always possible but if you can do it every so often it’s enough to show your child you both care about them and will be there when it matters.
Hopefully these back to school tips for single parents will help you navigate this tricky time. Read more of our tips for life and holidays as a single parent, here.
Ellie is the founder of outnumbered holidays. She is a single mum to two incredible boys and a host of fur kids. Ellie believes in the magic of making memories through shared experiences and is on a mission to make travel accessible to all single parents through tailored trips, advice and content.