Although children may spend the entire school year looking forward to summer vacation, the situation can be different for their parents. After all, if parents have divorced or separated, summer vacation can suddenly become very stressful.
They will need to coordinate between two households and won’t get to spend as much time with the children as they otherwise would. Parents that have already worked out a plan to share summertime parenting responsibilities and who cooperate with each other will often have an easier time ensuring everyone enjoys the summer months.
What are five ways that parents can facilitate a comfortable sharing of responsibilities during the summer months?
Create special rules for travel
When first putting together a parenting plan, it can benefit the family to specifically include rules about vacations. Limits on how long one parent can leave with the children and how far they can travel without the advanced permission of the other can help limit the risk of conflict between co-parents over summer travel plans.
Work out a reasonable schedule
Some families maintain the same schedule for custody exchanges year-round. Others may give one parent more time with the children during the summer because they simply cannot fulfill school-year parental obligations in the way the children require. Having a clear parenting schedule makes sharing parenting time in the summer months easier.
Discuss expenses ahead of time
Summer camp, equipment for fall sports, preparatory programs for standardized college entrance exams and even increased childcare needs are all expenses that can put pressure on parental budgets during the summer months. Parents may need to talk ahead of time about how they will absorb those costs and share them so that they don’t impose an unfair burden on either parent.
Have shared rules for the children
Will there be summer homework expectations, like daily reading requirements? Is there a curfew in place for teenagers during the summer months? Will young adults need to work part-time jobs or absorb more household responsibilities? Parents may need to discuss what they expect from their children during the summer so that those rules are consistent at both households.
Cooperate on childcare matters
If the children will require daily childcare, parents can work together to create arrangements that minimize family stress and expenses. Perhaps grandparents, aunts and other family members can spend some time with the children during the summer. Those who talk ahead of time about how to meet the extra childcare needs of the school-free summer months won’t end up panicking and making last-minute choices.
Having thoughtful rules and plans in place will make navigating a shared custody situation less stressful for the entire family throughout the summer and the rest of the year. If you have questions about how to achieve that end, don’t hesitate to seek legal guidance.