Every parent wants to enjoy a fun, relaxing summer with their children, but this might be easier said than done if you and your co-parent are divorced or separated. Co-parenting is difficult any time of year, but over summer break, certain challenges can become even more apparent. The schedule your family typically follows might need to be altered to allow for summer school or daycare hours, and big decisions might need to be discussed in regards to extended vacations. Regardless of how well you and your child’s other parent get along, these challenges can be just that, challenging.
To better prepare yourself and your child for the upcoming break, follow these simple tips to make co-parenting easier than ever this summer.
1. Be Open
You don’t want to be a pushover when it comes to spending time with your kids, but you also don’t want to be obstinate. Try your best to be open to what your ex suggests regarding parenting plans, and remember that you can’t always control everything, especially where parenting is concerned. If you and your ex share custody, you need to be able to make key parenting decisions together, and that means compromising so that your plans work in the best interest of your child.
Even if you have sole custody and your ex only has visitation rights, it’s still in your best interest to be flexible. Remember, seeing their other parent is good for your child, and if you can accommodate their schedule, to a reasonable extent, try to do so.
2. Create a Plan
Most kids are on break for the summer, which means they either participate in summer school programs, daycare, camps, or stay home with one of their parents. In any of these scenarios, you may need to consider how the changes will affect your pick-up and drop-off times, work schedules, and shared parenting time. If one parent will now take care of the children during the day, perhaps the other parent will wish for more time on the weekends. In any case, make sure you discuss your options with your co-parent.
Try to meet in a neutral location, like a coffee shop, without your children. If you are unable to speak civilly, try emailing your plans, or consider going through a mediator to make an official adjustment to the parenting plan for the summer.
Even after you create a parenting plan, it’s still important to maintain open lines of communication with your co-parent. Remember, co-parenting is a joint effort, and if you need to change plans, alter pick-up times, or discuss an important behavioral issue, you need to speak with your child’s other parent. This is especially important when either parent is away on vacation.
If your ex takes your kids on a week-long trip to Hawaii, you’ll want to know where they’ll be staying, when you can expect phone calls, and who to contact in case of an emergency. Likewise, if you take your kids away for a while, you need to share these important details with your co-parent. If either of you goes out of town without your children, it might also be smart to set up a call schedule, where either the parent or the children can call regularly to connect while they’re apart.
4. Let Your Kids Have a Say
It can be all too easy to get caught up in what works best for you this summer, especially while you and your ex are arranging a temporary parenting plan during the break. However, keep in mind how important this is to your kids, too. Do what you can to let your kids have a say in their summer plans, even if it means making things a bit more inconvenient for you or your co-parent. If your kids participate in sports, try to fit practices and games into the schedule. Also, if your child has a preference between attending summer camp or participating in other childcare options, at least let them have a say before you and your ex make the final decision.
Sharing parenting responsibilities can be difficult when you and your co-parent have different opinions, schedules, and priorities. Even if you follow all of these tips, you might still run into trouble with creating and following a temporary parenting plan for the summer. If you need additional help regarding your child custody or visitation arrangement, our firm is here to help.
Contact K. Dean Kantaras, P.A. today to discuss your child custody issue with our family law attorneys.