What they don't tell during the divorce that you are about to enter a logistical nightmare involving moving children, laundry and assorted electronic gadgets from place to place on time and on schedule.
Welcome to life after divorce with kids!
Keeping track of it all
This is the daily reality of what it's like to be a newly single parent trying to hold on to a structured and vaguely sane lifestyle. Co-parenting can be a great idea and it's hard enough to keep track of kids' sports activities and their school things when they live in just one house.
When they live in two households, it's like they might as well live in ten. Stuff could be at mum's or dad's, at a friend's house or anywhere in between. Those socks must be somewhere, they can't just disappear!
Have two of everything?
Friends and family who are not divorced like to offer this advice: "Why don't you get yourselves organised and get two of everything and keep one of each at each house?" Great, but what about the much loved soft toys who just cannot be cloned!
The other answer to that apparently very sensible question is that it's not that simple. Imagine the cost of buying duplicate iPods, games consoles not to mention football boots or cricket bats. You could spend a really fun Saturday afternoon in PCWorld and JB Sports and come out many hundreds of pounds poorer. Not a good idea.
Could GPS be the answer
The option of a complete duplication of everything is clearly not going to work. Apart from the cost involved, to say nothing of the agony of an afternoon in PCWorld, it assumes that if something is taken out from one home then it will naturally return there. Not so, it may start at your house, travel to school via a friend's house and return to the other house three weeks later. Short of tagging each item and tracking with GPS this is never going to work!
Use the care label to divide and rule
The way to bring this problem down to manageable proportions is to split all the simple things like everyday clothes and ordinary stuff and try to make sure that they stay in their designated house. For those who are really organised a cross marked on the care label of the garment would be ideal to designate its home base. Great idea!
The all important school bag has special status. This must never be forgotten and if possible it should be surgically attached to your child at the beginning of every school week (only joking)!
It's so easy to say but so much more difficult to achieve but a bit of old fashioned planning is the best way to go. Sunday night is probably best as planning night. Getting organised at the beginning of the week will be of great help in getting the right stuff in the right place before the mayhem begins. The most important influence on the success or otherwise of this massive logistical problem is the attitude and cooperation of your ex-partner.
It's a joint responsibility so a bit of flexibility, understanding and sense of common purpose will do much to take out some of the stress of one of life after divorce's most difficult and demanding tasks. And if you still can't find the socks, forget them and buy some more in Primark!