I'm a profesional declutterer. Here are 5 tips for kids going back to school while living in split custody households.

Two young children wearing school uniforms exit their front door
Catherine Falls Commercial/Getty Images
  • As a professional declutterer, I help people get organized. I'm also a mom.

  • Back to school can be stressful, but having a shared email and calendar can help organize parents.

  • I take deep breaths when things fall apart, and I need to pick up something from my kids' dad's house.

One challenging aspect of coparenting from different homes is that you're never sure if everyone is working with the same information. One parent doesn't get the coach's email, report cards go to only one house, one person always has to make dentist appointments, while the other never even heard about the school play. I know because my children share time between my house and their dad's.

As you look forward to the new school year, here are a few tips that can make your life a lot simpler.

Set up a family email and calendar

Create an email address that is solely used for family stuff. Use this for communications with schools, doctors, coaches, etc.

Co-parents who don't live together are more likely to struggle with conflict, and often don't engage in casual conversation. Turns out that's where a lot of important information is transferred! If all child-related communications go to a single email account it cuts down on "I didn't know there was a field trip this week!" conversations.

Likewise, create a family calendar that you can sync with everyone's personal calendar. Track when the kids are at each house, when it's your family's turn to bring snacks to soccer practice, and when a parent is out of town for work. The more you can share this information in advance, the fewer surprises you'll have to contend with.

Talk to teachers, academic advisors and counselors at the beginning of the school year to make sure they understand your family situation

Given the high rate of divorce in this country, it's puzzling that so many teachers don't seem to understand the reality of separate households. They may not recognize your child's reality; items left at the 'other' house, parents with differing ideas about timeliness, the stress of constantly moving from one household to the other.

At our school, the secretary was the one who really knew what was going on with our family (and everyone else in the community). Finding that person at your school and making friends with them can make your life a whole lot easier.

Hopefully you have a beautifully amicable relationship with your child's other parent or guardian. Even so, it's helpful to have school staff already in the know should problems arise.

Have a plan for big school projects

When my oldest was in fifth grade we embarked on the castle project. Each kid had three weeks to design and build a medieval castle with a whole slew of required elements. It sounded like plenty of time until we realized the project wasn't portable, and had to be completed at one house.

I sat down with my kid and the calendar. Once she'd decided she wanted to work on the project at my house, I crossed off every day she would be with her dad. Her face fell when she realized that she only had about 12 days to get it finished. We agreed that she'd work on her other homework at his house and concentrate on the castle when she was with me.

If you're a family that tends to procrastinate (looking in the mirror here) you have to be super organized to pull off these big enterprises.

Teach your kids to be responsible for their own stuff

I made a list that we taped to the front door at each house to remind the kids what to bring to school, which was particularly helpful on days when they were transferring to the other house. It included homework, sports equipment, lunch bags, cell phones and keys (when they were old enough for those) and anything else they were likely to overlook.

Multi-house living is tough, but has some silver linings. My kids learned to manage their stuff and plan ahead in the years they were moving back and forth between houses.

Deep breaths

Life is busy, mistakes are made. I can't count the number of times I drove across town on my lunch break to retrieve shin guards from their dad's house or deliver a raincoat that was left at mine. Despite your best intentions, things can fall apart. It's okay. A few missed assignments are NOT going to ruin your kid's life. You're trying, you love your child, and that's what really matters.


Read the original article on Insider