Dealing Gracefully With A New School Year

School Edited

So by the end of the last school year I was threatening to pummel a teacher who thought it wise to assign a project the last week of school.  Seriously?  I just didn’t have it in me anymore.  The administrators were lucky at that point that I wasn’t sending them to school in tutus and feather boas, in lieu of replacing their stained, ripped, and in some cases, buttonless uniform polo shirts thanks to the kid who was chewing them off….gross.

We happily embarked on summer and enjoyed the lack of an alarm while it was still freaking dark out.  We swam, got tan from failing to make the 57th application of 189 SPF sunscreen, barbecued, and stayed up late.  But there is always a rub…. summer camp is freaking expensive.  Everyone complains about holiday expenses but for us, summer is much worse financially.  It’s an arm and a leg for it to start hours later and end hours sooner.  If I can’t work a full day, I may as well keep them home.

As such, summer also means attempting to write, work full-time, and you know, maintain a family and a home, all with children under foot.  The girls are like tiny soldiers.  They know the rules, they help me at the office, and they don’t dare make a sound when a client calls me.  That said, they talk… a lot.  Concentration becomes hard.  Hell, it’s an Olympic level sport trying to remember what the shit I was writing.

Now it’s time to return to school….  We attend the open house and it’s chaos.  The kids are all acting like they’ve been apart for years.  They are hugging and jumping up and down.  Did I mention all the squealing?  We have not accomplished all the reading we intended to and everyone has school supplies that were apparently “online” (thanks for narrowing that down).  I overhear a mother talking about “intensive violin” and private tutors.  Meanwhile, my youngest is wearing two different shoes (I had at least fed them and I’m pretty sure they were mostly clean).  It appears I’m not quite ready to do this all over again.

After, the three of us head to the office to get a few things done and a client calls me screaming that her ex-husband didn’t buy the school supplies, and now she’s stuck with the bill.  Fuck, I still need school supplies….

Most of my readers are co-parents.  Please, please, please, for the love of all that is holy, read your legal documents.  Whether that is a Final Judgment of Dissolution,  a Marital Settlement Agreement, a Paternity Agreement, or the like.  School supplies are almost never listed unless you have written your own custom agreement.  The Court does this so you don’t fight all year-long over who bought the last damn pencil.  However, most agreements do state the percentages that you will use to split your expenses.  If your income is close, it is usually 50/50, but it could be 75/25, etc.  I generally recommend that individuals use these as a guideline for any expenses not specifically listed.

For uniforms: get your own.  Children should have clothing at each house and this applies to uniforms/school clothes.  Food, clothing, and shelter are no-brainers.  Don’t fight about it.  If you are worried about your clothes going to the other house, then mark the tags and politely ask for them to be returned.  No, you won’t always get them back and it sucks, but life is tough.  Is it really worth fighting over t-shirt?

To track shared parental expenses, use a shared spreadsheet.

List expenses on the spreadsheet and email any necessary receipts to the other parent.  We don’t generally send receipts because it’s time-consuming and we have a general idea of what things cost.  Simplicity is key to not making each other nuts.

I wish you all luck for the new school year.  Here’s to all the homework, projects, deadlines, and events.  Try and enjoy it.  They children will only be this age/grade for this year.