I can’t believe that we are already thinking about and preparing for the summer! This year has flown by quickly. Arranging child care for the summer, planning summer vacations, juggling camp schedules, and working out a schedule that works for both ex-spouses can be somewhat overwhelming for many parents. Divorced parents who focus on co-parenting by working together to meet their children’s needs usually find the quick summer months will go much more smoothly. With that in mind, here are our top 5 tips for co-parenting during the summer holiday:
Share the costs. Summer camps, sports lessons, and extracurricular/social activities during the summer can be a large financial burden for one parent to share. Talk to your spouse about splitting the costs, or determine a budget that you can both afford and then schedule your children’s activities accordingly. Try to avoid telling the kids that “Mom can’t afford it so you can’t do it”. Instead say “Your father and I can’t afford that activity this summer”. This eliminates the risk of alienating one parent for a child’s missed activity.
Let the kids have input. Children usually do better with routine and structure, so try to have your plans for the summer made in advance, and consider letting your children have input into them. Talk to the children about how they would like to spend the summer. For example, if you’re considering going somewhere on a summer vacation, first ask them if that is something they would like to do. You might be surprised, some kids may want to just stay in town and play soccer with their friends. If you do decide to take a trip, garner their input on where they would like to go. This will avoid sulky children on an expensive holiday and will ensure that the whole family is excited about the trip.
Make and share plans with your Ex as soon as possible. When it comes to planning the summer holiday, try to have the discussion with your Ex several months in advance to avoid any overlapping plans. Family reunions, graduations, and trips are often planned quite a bit in advance and the dates either cannot be changed or are very difficult to change. Planning ahead with your Ex helps ensure the children enjoy these events and hopefully helps avoid any arguing or other hurtful behavior that the children may be subject to if there are overlapping schedule issues.
Be supportive. Spending good quality time with both parents is important for children, therefore it’s in your children’s best interest for you to support their time with the other parent. If you will be traveling with the kids on a summer vacation, make sure you have your Ex’s contact information and try to schedule time for them to communicate regularly, whether by phone email, or Skype. If the other parent doesn’t see the children very often, talk with them about your children’s abilities and preferences, so their experience together is safe and fun.
Be understanding. Some children may experience stress or have a tough time adjusting to the different routine of the summer holiday. They may miss the other parent, or be sad at times when they are with you. As parents, when that happens, we should offer comfort and understanding. Both parents should try to prepare their children for time away from the other parent. Reassure them about the time away, and don’t forget to pack items of comfort, whether it’s a stuffed animal, favorite toys, or a photo of you.
Though the summer holiday can require some additional planning and work, it can also be a time that you create special memories that will last forever. Cooperating and co-parenting with your ex-spouse can help ensure that the holiday is a fun time for the whole family.