Summer break is approaching, which means the kids have more free time. This can present unique time management challenges for divorced couples as the set schedule established for the school year is disrupted. It’s important to coordinate with your co-parent about organizing summer plans and the division of parenting time.
It’s also a time cherished by most children as they are free from the constraints of a school schedule—from band camp to summer road trips to trips to the beach with friends, there’s a load of carefree fun to be had. And with a bit of planning and flexibility, you can accommodate things in a stress-free manner.
Plan, plan, plan
Planning is just as crucial as communicating. Get the important dates on the calendar and hash out the family get-togethers ahead of time. Once you have a clearer picture of your summer schedule, you can plan around things like holidays and summer camp.
After you come up with a summer co-parent agreement, you will have an accurate picture of what your adult summer free time will look like. Establishing a plan will give you more flexibility for your own activities.
Summer vacations can be expensive. You might be spending more money on activities and/or childcare. Between trips to the zoo, water park, and the family road trip, things can add up.
It’s smart to have a conversation with your ex about what your summer spending expectations are and where you will share costs. Activities like swimming lessons, equestrian camp, and summer sports may be some of the costs you discuss splitting as co-parents.
Patience is indeed a virtue and for many parents, there will be times that co-parenting in the summer will be frustrating. Working around the wants and needs of two separate households can be a complex dance as you and your ex are living separate single lives.
Work together as best you can and try to keep perspective as you navigate the summer. Expect there to be some hiccups along the way, an unexpected event can derail any well-oiled machine. Staying flexible and patient will grant you the serenity to negotiate summer break relatively unscathed.
This one circles back to communication. Be sure to be upfront with your ex-spouse about your summer vacation plans. It’s better to do this sooner rather than later. No one wants to be blindsided by undisclosed plans.
Cooperation is key in any working relationship, and that is what co-parenting is—a working relationship between you and your ex. Operating in silos can leave your co-parent unpleasantly surprised by that corporate team-building event in Chicago you forgot to mention. Don’t be that person.
Include your kids in the discussion
There are some unique considerations surrounding the act of parenting across separate households. Include your kids in a discussion about summer plans and give them a say in the decision-making process.
Providing structure and a routine can be challenging, especially when your children are still adjusting to the divorce. Creating an open space for your kids to voice their wants and needs shows them that their opinions about how they want to spend their summer vacation are valued.
Summertime is the season for making unforgettable family memories. It’s a great time for quality time and attention, and to share in the activities that your children enjoy. Working together, you and your co-parent can keep things stress and drama-free this summer.
If you and your spouse are considering divorce, schedule your free consultation and learn more about how mediation might be right for you.