The school year is a long and exhausting grind for the entire family. Children have obligations every school day, and their parents will typically end up transporting them to and from school, as well as social and extracurricular activities. Although summer may mean a break in school obligations, it creates a whole new set of stressors.
It is often a challenge for parents to handle the scheduling changes of summer vacation even when they remain married to the other parent. Once the family has to factor in frequent custody exchanges and shared parental responsibilities, the situation can become much more complicated. The summer months are often a time when parents find themselves arguing about their shared custody arrangements. How can those co-parenting during the summer break from school minimize their conflict with each other?
Discuss an appropriate schedule
Establishing the right family schedule for summer vacation when first creating a parenting plan is a very good move. Those who only have a basic breakdown of parenting time may need to discuss with one another the best way to share the summer months. Parents could split weeks in half or alternate them. Older children could potentially spend two weeks at a time or more at one parent’s home. Ensuring that the children get to spend plenty of time with both parents during the summer months can help stave off later conflict.
Coordinate vacation plans
Whether one parent always travels to another state where their parents live or visits an amusement park with the children every summer, keeping those traditions alive can be very important for the family after the divorce. Vacations also represent an important opportunity for parents to reconnect with their children after a stressful family experience. Having rules that limit how long vacations last or where people will travel with the children can make scheduling vacations with minimal conflict an easier task for the family.
Identify expenses ahead of time
One of the biggest challenges about co-parenting during the summer is how expensive the children’s demands may become, especially once they reach middle school and high school age. Child care expenses, summer camp tuition and other household costs may strain family budgets during the summer. Co-parents that identify and discuss how to handle those expenses ahead of time will be in a better position to avoid conflict with each other.
When properly managed, a summer shared custody schedule can give both of the parents time with the children and also an opportunity to unwind and recharge before recommitting themselves to Parenting with the kids again. Having the right parenting rules and plans in place may take some of the stress out of co-parenting at any time of the year.