Remember the excitement you felt as a child as the school year ended, knowing leisurely summer days were ahead. For divorced parents, this can be a different story. How can divorced parents work together to create a summer schedule that has the right mix of fun and learning and accommodates everyone’s schedule?
Below are some pointers to assist in making the shift from school year to summer less challenging and more enjoyable for all involved.
If possible, meet with your co-parent early in the year and create a summer schedule that works for the family. As a divorce lawyer, I know not all parents can just “sit down and work it out.” In that case, creating a shared summer calendar showing who has what weeks, what camps the child will attend, and vacation schedules can be useful. If your children are old enough, show them the summer calendar in advance and throughout the summer so they can see how their time will be spent.
Be Flexible and Understanding
Being away from a parent for extended periods of time can cause anxiety in children. Having them involved in planning may help reduce any stress from the change in routine. Children may miss the other parent. It can be easy to take this personally but try to be empathetic and understand it takes time to adjust to the schedule change.
Put Your Children First
Give your child permission to have fun and enjoy their time with the other parent. Kids crave time with both parents. Try not to focus on how many days each parent has, or who took the kids where. Do not dwell on how hard separation from the child will be for you; your child does not need to worry about how you are coping. Having a great summer does not have to include expensive vacations – one of my clients takes his daughter to a new park in Austin each week of his summer possession. This is a great, affordable way to create memories.
Co-parenting in the summer can be enjoyable. Through effective planning, showing flexibility/understanding and putting the needs of your children first, positive summer memories are sure to follow.