Managing Back to School Between Two Homes

Stepmother helps stepdaughter with her homework. Managing back to school between two homes.

Back to school can be a fresh start for families that have a child with two homes. However, it can also be a remedial lesson in Co-parenting 101. Managing back to school between two homes can cause anxiety between each family and may even cause stress on the child. This not only means parents and stepparents have new opportunities that they need to learn, but this will mean they need to start to communicate better.

When my stepdaughter first started school, I knew that I, as her stepmom, wanted to be involved at her school with her. I knew that I would want to go to her school’s open house, help volunteer, go to her conferences, and even drop in from time to time to eat lunch with her. You know, do everyday parenting things while your child is in school. And I am lucky enough to be able to be a part of this school experience with her.

I always had a hard time with wanting to feel included with the teachers’ communication. However, I knew as her stepmom, I had to step back and let my stepdaughter’s parents be the main contacts. If there ever was anything important that I should know about, my husband would inform me.

Research shows that over 1300 stepfamilies are formed every day. Now imagine how many students are in each class, who have two homes. Many times teachers feel caught in the middle of their students’ life stories. If a teacher doesn’t know a child has two families, they don’t know that they should be communicating with both parents. This is where co-parents should be informing their child’s teacher of their family background. It is not the teacher’s job to figure this all out on their own. It is also not your child’s job to inform the teachers or school.

Many schools send out a questionnaire to families either at Back to School night or the first week of school. They typically ask about the people in your family who live with your child, etc. These questionnaires are the best way to communicate accurate information from both of your child’s families to your child’s teacher. These can also be used to let the school and teacher know what you want for school communication between both homes. All of this information is beneficial to get to the teachers during Back to School night or before the first day of school.

Be sure to include the following information:

  1. Notes for Parents: Should they send two school information copies home for each parent?
  2. Contact Information: Who are the main points of contact for phone calls? List in order.
  3. Transition Schedule: Do you have a set co-parenting schedule? Drop off/Pick up schedules. Should they be riding a bus or going to parent pick-up on certain days?
  4. Communication: Who should the teacher communicate with via email? Both co-parents? Individual? Stepparents? Everyone?

Try to complete this school questionnaire with your co-parent to ensure you are both on the same page. Also, including a color-coded folder with each parent’s name in the child’s backpack can help the child get the correct information to each parent. That way, no parent is left out of necessary information.

Show your child’s teacher and school that you want to be a part of their school life. Communication is major in situations like this. Become involved within your child’s school.

Stepparents, it’s great that you want to be involved in your stepchild’s school life. However, make sure that both of the parents of your stepchild are on board with this. If they are, this will benefit the child! If not, then know your limits. There are other ways you can show your stepchild you care about their schooling, such as:  

  1. Help them with their homework.
  2. Pick them up and drop them off at school on your days.
  3. Help make and pack their school lunch and leave special notes in their lunchbox.
  4. Do their hair and help them pick out their outfit before school.
  5. Get excited over the school work they do bring home and hang it up on the refrigerator.  

Most importantly, though, the teacher is not your therapist. If there is any family drama between both homes, leave your child’s teacher out of it. Teachers are there to educate your child. If there are any school communication situations, discuss this directly with your other co-parent or the school office.

Back to school can truly be a happy time for both families and, most importantly, the child. Be prepared for this information ahead of time, and the school year should hopefully run more smoothly.

Happy Back to School!

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Hi! My name is Val or I'm also known as MinnesotaMrsMom. You can find me on Instagram. I am also a Certified Step Parent Coach. As a Certified Step Parent Coach, I help step parents reach positive coparenting goals and help them realize their potential within their family. Visit StepFamilyLifeCoaching for more information. I have a handsome husband of 14 years, a beautiful teenage stepdaughter and two handsome young sons. I love to go on new travel adventures and make happy memories with my family! I also enjoy a good belly laugh, decorating my house with each new season, hot coffee and cooking/baking.

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