Co-Parenting Tips for Back-To-School

coparenting back to school

This time of year can be tough.

Transitioning out of summer routines and into the more structured routines of school can be a stressful time for parents and children. This transition becomes even more complicated for co-parents as they work to coordinate their schedules so that both might be involved in their child’s life. This transition also increases the need for communication between co-parents as they coordinate school costs, school pictures, parent-teacher conferences, school events, homework tasks, and more. The increased need for communication also can increase the opportunity for miscommunication and conflict between co-parents.

  1. Consider a written contract to clarify expectations.
    It is important to have clear and understood expectations between co-parents before or as soon as possible after the children return to school. An agreed-upon written contract between co-parents can be an effective way to clarify expectations. This contract can address the ways both parents have determined they can best support their child.
  2. Set up situations so everyone wins.
    It is important to remember to set up win-win situations for both parents. When both parents are included and involved, the child wins too! The following are some areas you may want to plan to set up win-win situations for you and your child:
  • Determine how school expenses will be split among parents.
  • Determine who will pick up and take your child(ren) to school.
  • Determine the arrangements when school is out of session for holidays, teacher workdays, etc.
  • Determine how parents will be notified of school events. If there is a school newsletter or email list, ensure both parents’ addresses or email addresses are included.
  • Determine how homework will be addressed. If the child(ren) have a mid-week visitation with the noncustodial parent, both parents must support schoolwork that needs to be done during the time the child is with each parent.
  • Determine how you want to handle parent-teacher conferences. Both parents may attend together, or each parent easily can have an individual conference.
  • Make sure both parents have an equal opportunity to order school photos, yearbooks, etc. Each parent should have access to order forms.

3. Participate in mediation if negotiation fails.
If you are finding it difficult to communicate with your co-parent about the back to school transition. Or, if you can’t seem to find win-win situations for your child, then mediation may be an option for you. Mediators are trained professionals who help two parties who disagree come to a workable agreement for both parties. To learn more about mediation programs in your area click here or visit our resource page on the Co-parenting for Resilience website.

Transitioning back into the school routine can be stressful, but you can avoid the back to school blues by setting clear expectations with your co-parent!

QuickTip Tuesday: School Day Breakfast

mini frittatas

My girls are starting back to school on Thursday, August 13th. After FIVE months of being at home, I am a little concerned about our morning breakfast routine. I have never been great at getting a hot breakfast on the table on weekday mornings, and I have relied heavily upon school breakfast for the last few years, but I know that not everyone has that option. This past week I have been making some little mini-frittatas to put in the freezer. I bought some in the freezer section at the grocery store and I really liked them. They were really expensive! I decided I could make them for next to nothing and freeze them myself. I have done two varieties so far, but I know the combinations of fillings are endless.

Start by beating ten eggs. Add a little salt and pepper (1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper) and then mix in some cheese (about 1/2 to 2/3 cup) and add in whatever veggies and meats you want! Fill 12 greased muffin cups with the egg mixture. Bake at 400 for 12-15 minutes.  When cooled, you can package them up in freezer bags and freeze. 1-1.5 minutes in the microwave gets them ready to eat.

I made a dozen with cheddar cheese, bell pepper, and roasted broccoli.

I made another dozen with pepperjack cheese, bacon, and quartered cherry tomatoes.

I plan to do some more with Monterey jack or cheddar and green chiles.

Lincoln County Free Fair 2020

The Lincoln County Fairboard has voted to hold this year’s fair with some modifications. The first modification is that no one will be allowed into the exhibit hall. We will be having indoor contests, but there will be no exhibitors or volunteers inside the hall. I will be taking videos and/or pictures and posting to our Lincoln County OSU Extension Facebook page and the Fairboard’s website. The schedule for entering is also a little different. Be sure to pay attention to which day your community is invited to enter indoor exhibits. Horticulture, fresh flowers, and baked goods should be brought for entry as close to judging as possible.

It is extremely important that our exhibitors have their items tagged have an entry form filled out prior to arriving at the fairgrounds. This will help the extension office get everything entered in a timely manner. You can use the documents attached below.

Exhibitor Entry Form

Exhibitor Entry Tag

FOR INDOOR EXHIBITS:

Monday, August 31

8:00 am to 12:00 pm, accepting entries from  Agra and Carney

12:00 pm to 4:00 pm, accepting entries from Prague

 

Tuesday, September 1

8:00 am to 12:00 pm, accepting entries from Chandler

12:00 to 4:00 pm, accepting entries from Wellston

 

Wednesday, September 2

8:00 am to 12:00 pm, accepting entries from Davenport and Stroud

12:00 pm to 4:00 pm, accepting entries from Meeker

6:00 pm to 8:00 pm accepting entries from any community

 

Thursday, September 3

8:00 am to 12:00 pm, accepting entries from any community

2:00 pm Judging

 

Saturday, September 5

All indoor exhibits can be picked up between 8:00 am and 12:00 pm

 

The livestock shows will be “blow, show, release. No fitting or clipping will be done on the fairgrounds before the show. As far as we know, clipping and fitting is allowed if done before arriving at the fairgrounds. If you are showing livestock or horses, but are not exhibiting anything inside, please fill out the Exhibitor Entry Form and bring that form during the schedule above. If you are exhibiting animals AND indoor exhibits, please include the animals with your indoor exhibits on the form.

LIVESTOCK SHOW SCHEDULE:

 

Thursday:

Hogs check-in at 8:00 am, be ready to show by 10:00 am

Sheep check-in at 12:00 pm, be ready to show by 2:00 pm

 

Friday:

Goats check-in at 8:00 am, be ready to show at 10:00 am

Dairy goats check-in at 12:00 pm, show at 3:00 pm

Dairy cows check-in at 3:00 pm, show at 5:00 pm

 

Saturday:
Horse show checks in at 8:00 am and starts shortly after

Beef check-in at 8:00 am and show at 10:00 am

 

There will be no livestock, horticulture, or entomology judging contests. There will be no tractor driving contest.

 

 

 

QuickTip Tuesday: Walking For Weight Loss

Arthritis Foundation Walk With Ease | AFAA

Quarantine 15 got you down? Try walking! Walking is one of the best exercises for weight loss because it is easy on the joints and many people can walk at a brisk pace for a much longer period of time than they can perform other exercises. Walking is good for people with arthritis, as well as some other mobility issues.

Benefits of Walking:

  • strengthen the heart and lungs
  • nourish joints
  • build bones
  • fight osteoporosis
  • burn calories
  • control weight
  • reduce stress
  • improve mood
  • boost energy

I am going to be starting up a morning walking group in Chandler OK in October. I plan to meet 3 times per week at 8:30 in the morning. If you are interested in walking with me, please call 405-258-0560 and mention the Walk With Ease Program! If you live in a different community and would like me to walk in your area (within Lincoln County OK) please call and let me know! I would love to have multiple groups going.

Foodie Friday: August Menu

The August 2020 Menu was a real labor of love. I struggled quite a bit with finding some fresh, new recipes to try while including some family favorites. I got my kids involved in choosing some of the meals and I highly recommend asking your own families what they want for dinner when you are making your plan. My two daughters are very predictable and, as expected, Amelia asked for beef stroganoff. I fully expected Sophie to ask for pizza, but she threw me a wildcard and requested broccoli. She’s a stinker!

You can find the recipes I have collected for this month on the August 2020 Menu Pinterest board. And please feel free to print out this menu, cross out or cover up items your family won’t want, and fill in with meals your family will eat. I share these menus here to help other busy homemakers with their own menu planning!

August 2020 menu

August 2020 menu

QuickTip Tuesday: Cutting Up a Whole Chicken

cutting up chicken

If you’ve ever been staring at a whole chicken for the very first time and wondering where to start, you are not alone. Here is a step-by-step procedure for cutting up a whole chicken from Oklahoma Gardening:

Step 1 Remove the leg quarters: Cut through the skin between the thigh and body. Bend thigh back until hip joint breaks. Cut through joint, separating the leg from the body. To separate the thigh and drumstick, slit the skin above the knee joint, break the joint, and then cut apart. Repeat on the other side.
Step 2 Remove the wings: Pull one wing away from the body. Slit the skin between the
wing and body. Bend the wing backward until the joint breaks. Cut through the joint. Repeat on the other side.
Step 3 Separate the breast from the back: Cut along the breast end of the ribs on one side, cutting toward the neck to separate the breast from the back. Repeat on the other side. Bend front and back halves apart. Cut through neck joints that connect halves.
Step 4 Halve the back: To divide the back in half, hold the piece at each end. Bend the
ends toward the skin inside until the bones break. Cut the back in half where the bones
are broken. Cut off the tail.

Step 5 Halve the breast: To divide the breast in half, but lengthwise along the breastbone or, to divide breast in half crosswise, grasp breast at each end and bend toward the skin side to break bones. Cut between the wishbone and the breastbone.

Monday Musing: Spell Check

It has always been very important for me to spelled correctly and use proper grammar. I almost always double and triple check these things whenever I post a blog or update my social media accounts. If I don’t double-check, I will inevitably post something with a mistake. BUT sometimes there are words with multiple versions of correct spellings. I find this very weird. I, of course, have a version that I use and recognize, but that doesn’t mean that my way is the only way.

Canceled vs. Cancelled (both correct)

Ambience vs. Ambiance

Advisor vs. Adviser

Caliber vs Calibre

Gray vs Grey

What other words can you think of that have more than one correct spelling?

QuickTip Tuesday: Limit Kids’ Screentime

My oldest daughter worked really hard this spring and saved up enough money to buy an iPod touch. I remember when the first iPods came out. I had one and I used it to listen to music while I exercised. I thought this would be something Amelia could do with her own iPod.  I was wrong. Yes, she can listen to music. But has she? Not that I can tell. She has mostly used it to play games and talk to her friends online. That’s all well and good, especially since her social interactions have been quite sparse since March, but what’s too much?

While there are a whole host of reasons to limit your kids’ screen time, I am going to focus on the one that has had me the most concerned since my own daughter got her hand-held device: sleep. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “screen time might impact sleep by fostering irregular bedtimes. In addition, it is too exciting especially at bedtime, and exposure to light can alter melatonin secretion.”

So, my first step to limiting screen time, and my quick tip for today, is to make sure your kids turn in their devices at bedtime. Make it a hard rule that these devices to not go to bed with your kids. Amelia has to hand hers over to us every night before bed. Did she whine about it? Yes. Has she broken the rule? Of course. It’s my job as a parent to enforce the rule, impose consequences, and make it more difficult to break the rule.

Successful Co-Parenting Requires a Shift in Thinking

Three major shifts in language are important for successful co-parenting.  By sticking with the old language, the conflict remains alive, parents continue to criticize their co-parent, and children are hurt by the words their parents are using. Changing our language will help change our thinking, and ultimately, our behavior. 

Have you ever known someone who told a lie so many times they sincerely started believing it was the truth? Or a child who was told over and over they were worthless and would never amount to anything until they finally started believing it. That same principle applies here.

Words have meaning and communicate things about our relationships and our identity, particularly when those words are repeated. New research on the brain suggests that using more positive words in our everyday conversations can change our attitudes and outlook on life as well as the people around us. Making small changes in the words we use can have big impacts on our children. In fact, your choice of words can help your children to have a more positive experience during the divorce. Below are a few small changes that we recommend.

Shift from saying “ex” to “co-parent”
The use of “ex” refers to the divorce and the past while the term “co” refers to together. When we refer to our past spouse as “ex,” we continue to point to what use to be, which reminds us of the brokenness and continues to keep the pain in the present. Shifting to “co-parent” emphasizes the person you divorced is still the child’s parent. This reminds both you and your child of a positive relationship that needs to be appreciated and nurtured.

Similarly, some parents shift into using the other parent’s first name instead of “your dad” or “your mom.” This denies the other person is still the child’s parent. Instead of using the first name of your co-parent, use your “mom/dad” to support the parent-child relationship when talking to your child. For example, instead of saying “You’re going to John’s house this weekend,” say “You’re going to your dad’s house this weekend.”  To your child “John” is still “dad” and therefore it’s important to continue to support that relationship.

Shift from “visitation” to “parenting time”
The term “visitation” tends to deny the belonging — if someone just visits then he doesn’t really belong. A child doesn’t want to feel that they are just visiting their parent. A child wants to feel a sense of belonging and support from their parents, no matter how long their time together lasts. By using the term “parenting time,” the focus shifts to the process of parenting and to building the relationship between parent and child. This helps the child feel their time with their parent is more secure and less temporary.

Shift from “I” to “win-win”
Some parents go through a divorce as if it were a war.

Parents have to think about the win-win outcome. Some parents engage in a win-lose process where they only care about winning and making the other parent suffer or lose. Other parents engage in a lose-win situation in which they are willing to sacrifice themselves as a parent simply to keep the peace. However, one parent can’t win, unless their co-parent is winning, too. Both parents must win, because ultimately, if the child is missing out on a relationship with either parent, then the child won’t win. The child loves and needs both parents; the child cannot win if one parent is losing. When possible and appropriate, both parents should have a relationship with the child because it’s in the best interest of the child. When this is not possible, the parent who is present must allow the child to talk about their other parent to help them maintain a positive memory and preserve a “win-win” situation.

To move towards this new way of thinking, parents must change their current pattern of behavior.  Moving toward a win-win relationship requires a disruption in your old habits. Shifting to win-win thinking provides your child with a more positive outlook on the divorce and helps provide them with a solid foundation for a successful future. When your child looks back on their life, how do you want them to remember his or her childhood? As parents, you must keep your child in mind and remember to think “win-win.”

Need more help?

Co-Parenting is hard. We’re here to help! Learn more about the Co-Parenting for Resilience Program, part of the Extension mission of Oklahoma State University’s College of Human Sciences.

QuickTip Tuesday: Clutter

During this weird time of global pandemic, when my whole family has been at home a lot more, I have noticed a dramatic increase in clutter around my house. Anyone else? I am not really sure why or how the clutter is growing, but it is and it drives me crazy. Here’s my quick tip for keeping the clutter at bay:

Take 10 minutes a day- every day- to dispose of packaging from items purchased via mail order and choose one or two things each day that you do not use and could put into storage or give away.