Summer is right around the corner in Colorado””which means school is out and kids’ schedules are about to change. For separated or newly divorced parents, summer can bring added quality time spent with the kids, but also worry and anxiety as parents juggle modified schedules, summer vacations, and visits from out-of-town family and friends.
Here are a few tips to make adjusting to summer schedules easier for you and your ex:
- Review your co-parenting plan. When you divorced, you may have already created a parenting plan that includes summer vacation. Every summer brings changes to schedules, from camps and summer vacations to visits from out of town friends and relatives. All can impact your co-parenting plan. Further, summer schedules for children can change a parent’s schedule, with camps or other care arrangements starting or ending at different times. Review your parenting plan and adjust for summer. When are vacations scheduled? Are grandparents visiting? Where might scheduling conflicts arise and what are backup plans for childcare then?
- Communicate. Whether you want to take your child on your vacation or enroll him or her in a summer camp, talk with your ex as soon as possible. Check that your plans and your ex’s plans are compatible. If they are not, start discussing necessary changes early. Do not let yourself be caught off guard once you have already made plans.
- Be detailed. Create a summer plan. Who has your children when? Are you alternating weeks or weekends? Will either of you have your child with you for a longer period of time during the summer? How about who will be picking up your children after summer care and when? Delineate it all on paper (or on the computer, as the case may be).
- Talk to your kids. Older children will likely have some input over summer schedules, so be sure and engage them early as plans for the summer begin to solidify. What activities will they be involved in over the summer? Will they attend summer camp, daycare or a combination of both? Be sure and include your children in conversations about the impact of summer schedule changes and what it might mean to co-parenting arrangements.
- Share costs. Summer vacations and events all cost money. Review your separation agreement. Does your child support include extra summer activities, such as daycare? If not, be ready to talk to your ex about sharing the costs of unforeseen joint expenses.
- Do not stick your kids in the middle. Summer vacation is a time of fun and relaxation for your children. Do not make them choose between you and your ex. You can have plenty of fun planned without making it a competition between you and your ex.
One of the most challenging parts of co-parenting is cooperation. It is also the most important part. By planning and communicating with your ex in a civil and cooperative manner as summer schedules emerge, you can make the school break fun and stress-free for both your children and yourself.