The school year is coming to a close, which means summer is right around the corner. This is an exciting time for the kids, but it can be stressful for divorced parents to navigate the summer schedules. Visitation plans can be more complicated in the summer because the kids no longer have school every day, and often have a variety of new activities like summer camps and vacations. Below, I have outlined several strategies that can be implemented to ensure a happy and successful summer for co-parenting families.
Make a Plan
This is the most important step, which is why it is the first consideration you should have when dealing with co-parenting in the summer. This is something you should be thinking about well in advance so that you have guidelines in place before contentious situations arise. Decide with your co-parent what the rules are going to be regarding visitation during the week, on weekends, holidays, and vacations so that you do not run into problems later on. A simple verbal agreement may suffice if you have a good relationship with your co-parent, but a written court document can also be useful for solidifying these agreements.
Consult the Children
One of the good things about the summer is that time with your kids can be more flexible, allowing for a customized schedule. For example, one of your children may prefer spending an entire month at each house before switching, instead of every few days as may be customary. It is important to ask your kids what they want to do, even if you think that you know best!
Know Your Schedule Ahead of Time
This is especially important when it comes to holidays and vacations. Even if you traditionally visit your relatives for, say, the Fourth of July, you still need to make sure that taking the kids that weekend is still acceptable to your co-parent. There is nothing more frustrating than planning a vacation for your family, only to have it ruined by not clearing the time with your co-parent.
Be Understanding and Forgiving
The above being said, of course things do come up unexpectedly. Despite your personal feelings toward your co-parent, it is very important to maintain a mutual level of respect and understanding for the sake of the family. If your co-parent wants to take the kids on your weekend, make sure you take into consideration the reason why and don’t take punitive measures simply because ill will still exists between the two of you. This will do nothing but make things worse for the children.
Successfully co-parenting throughout the summer months is very possible, it just takes practice and a set of rules that are agreed upon, and followed through on, by both parties. Eventually, this arrangement will become second nature and your kids will no doubt be grateful that their parents were able to put aside their personal differences and still give them summers that they are happy to look back on.