It's that time of year again. The kids will soon be out of school. Summer camp, days at the beach, pool parties and time with friends will be in full swing. For many children, this is their favorite time of year. Say goodbye to homework and hello to days of fun in the sun.
What happens to kids when their parents are divorced? Where do the summer vacations go? Even for families of divorce, summertime can be fun and uncomplicated. It is up to you and how you co-parent during the summer season.
I have seen ex-spouses use the summer vacation to upset the other parent. Maybe one person plans an extended trip that takes away visitation from the other parent. There is nothing wrong with long trips, it's how you plan and communicate about them. So to avoid conflict this summer here are some ways to create a co-parenting plan for the summer break.
- Be aware of what experience you want for your children. Ask yourself: Do you want them to have a little more freedom? Do you need to stick tightly to the visitation schedule? If so, is it because of your frustration towards your spouse, or because that is what is best for your child? Think of how this can be fun for everyone involved.
- Be considerate of your ex-spouse's schedule. If you have to take up their weekend for a special trip then offer to give them make up time when you get back. Even if it isn't their scheduled time, your children will appreciate seeing their parent after being gone for awhile.
- Sit down together and discuss what you want to do with your children over the summer. Look at the calendar and write in dates. Make sure that your plan is fair, not just for you, but for your children. If you are not able to plan together, use a google calendar and share it with each other. Don't use your schedules to cause emotional pain in the other person. This is about working together as parents to provide your children positive experiences.
- Talk about how to handle drop off times and other events that might fall on the other person's days for having the kids. Keeping the kid's best interest in mind, this is not suppose to be a time to make personal attacks. Summer is a busy time of year and it is inevitable a family picnic, birthday party or some other fun event will not land on your day with the kids. Routine is important during the months of school however it is ok to have a bit more give and take this time of year.
- Once you have a schedule in place, share it with your children. Older children appreciate knowing the plan as it gives them a sense of predictability and security.
Summer encourages us to have more flexibility with our schedules, to let go and enjoy the long warm days. Take time to appreciate each moment with your child, regardless of the visitation schedule, they will be grown before you know it. Enjoy the summer and your children.