For many parents, the conclusion of the summer holidays will be somewhat welcome, as the juggle of happy children and a busy workload can be a real challenge. With the return to school underway, usual routines can resume for most.

However, for parents who have recently separated, the first few weeks back to school can be a very anxious time for the entire family. With this in mind, separated parents may wish to consider the following tips, which will often prove useful as they deal with what is a very significant life change.

Your child’s feelings

Every child is different, and it is therefore important to encourage your child to share their feelings, whether they are positive or negative. Some children may want to vent, and others may choose to withdraw into themselves instead. It is also worth considering whether extra support or counselling might be helpful for your child. In this regard, it can be very helpful to talk to your child’s school about additional support that they may benefit from.

Helping your child to anticipate awkward questions

Children will often worry about what their friends think, and whether this will lead to them being treated “differently”. Talking with them about what they feel comfortable sharing with their classmates about the new situation can really help. Classmates may be curious and may ask your child questions that they find awkward- it is important to discuss this possibility in advance and to anticipate questions that may arise. You should provide guidance and support in how your child might respond in a way that deflects attention and does not upset your child further. Again, additional support or counselling can be very helpful in approaching this the right way.

Term-time child arrangements with your ex-partner

Children usually like to know what is happening – who is dropping them off, picking them up, where they will be staying and what their after-school timetable looks like. Dealing with the separation can be upsetting and challenging enough for them without there being uncertainty as to their living and travel arrangements. Colour-coded calendars in each household can help here, as can apps such as Cozi or Family Wizard. These kinds of solutions are all worth exploring as soon as possible.

Updating your child’s teacher(s)

A separation can be extremely difficult to process and acknowledge, and even harder to share with other people. However, it is essential to update your child’s teacher(s) of your child’s new living arrangements at the earliest opportunity. This will enable them to understand and empathise with any changes in your child’s behaviour and be a proper support to them. Open communication with the school is key and will benefit everyone. And it will help the school to spot opportunities for additional support that might benefit your child.

Seeking additional support

Don’t be afraid to seek further support for yourself or your child if it is needed. There are many organisations that can support you and your child through what is doubtless an emotionally confusing and difficult time.

You can access a list of helpful support services, provided by the NACCC, here.