Kids today are kept very busy with extracurricular activities, whether they participate in sports, arts, or clubs.As a separated or divorced parent sharing custody, this can make your schedule even more complicated than you anticipated. Between juggling practices and events, plus your regular custody schedule, it can be a lot to handle.Here are 4 tips for effectively co-parenting with your ex while also handling your kids’ extracurricular activities:
Include Both Parents
Just like with school and healthcare decisions, both parents should be involved in deciding what extracurriculars a child participates in, as well as where they participate in activities.When both parents understand the time and financial requirements of each activity, it’s much more likely to be a smoother ride when you run into scheduling issues. And if you support signing your child up for an activity but your ex doesn’t – or vice versa – you and your ex will have to discuss your thoughts and wishes, but may not actually agree on a final solution.In many cases, parenting plans have provisions for dealing with signing up for extracurricular activities, including how many per season, how payment is distributed, and what happens in the event of disagreements.
Respect Parenting Time
In some cases, a parent may object to signing a child up for an extracurricular purely because of the amount of commitment required during their parenting time. This is a very common concern when one parent has limited parenting time, such as every other weekend.If this happens, you may have to look at alternative arrangements for your child’s chosen extracurricular activities, such as changing the schedule or the location. Or, you may need to reevaluate your custody agreement to be more flexible to accommodate the activities, such as allowing your child to visit the other parent at times that are not their specific parenting time.
Share the Responsibility
Extracurriculars place an additional burden on both parents, both from getting the child to and from the activity and paying for the important costs.Before you sign your child up for an activity, you and your ex need to come up with a plan for who transports when, as well as who pays for what expenses. Additionally, listing both parents on the contact sheets for the extracurriculars gives equal access to information so both parents can participate.Because scheduling may be an issue from time to time, you and your ex need to be able to work together to transport your child to and from the activity, even if it’s not in your personal parenting time. This requires communication and coordination. While you may not like one another personally, putting your child’s needs and interests first to help them get the most out of their extracurricular is important.
Keep the Other Parent Informed
Your child deserves the support and participation of both parents when it comes to their interests.This means making sure your ex has access to all practice schedules, game and performance information, and other information. If you can, add your ex as a second contact on sign-up forms so they get added to email and call lists. If not, be sure to share any communications you get regarding your child’s activity schedule with your ex.Some co-parents share an online calendar to help improve communication regarding their children’s activities, without requiring them to directly talk with one another. This is also a great option if you have multiple people involved, such as step-parents or grandparents.