Successfully Co-Parenting The summer months are upon us, and that means it’s time to start thinking about adjustments that may need to be made to your shared parenting plan. While summer vacation and other holidays are usually factored into the equation when you negotiate custody, there are still things that will come up each year that will have to be dealt with when it comes to co-parenting over the summer.
Action Tips for Successful Co-Parenting Over the Summer
- Put your children’s needs first
- Plan ahead for vacations
- Expect to share extra expenses
- Involve your children when making plans
- Communicate with your co-parent
- Be flexible
Putting Your Kids First When Co-Parenting Over the Summer
Summertime as a child should be enjoyed, and the last thing you want to do as a parent is to take that away from them. Remember to keep them away from adult discussions, even if you are frustrated with how your co-parent is behaving. It’s also a good idea to talk to your children about summer vacation plans and get their input as to what they’d like to do as well. If they say they want to spend more time with their other parent since they don’t spend a lot of time with them during the school year, be open to that. The summer is short, but for your children, they are memories that will last forever. You want them to have good memories.
Planning Ahead and Communicating for Successful Co-Parenting Over the Summer
It’s ideal to notify your co-parent of any summer trips you have planned well in advance so they can adjust their schedule accordingly. You wouldn’t want them to spring some elaborate travel plans on you at the last minute, so do them a courtesy and communicate as soon as you know when and where you will be going. If your parenting plan specifies when you need to notify your co-parent of summer travel plans, do your best to abide by this. Many parenting plans will include this verbiage to avoid communication issues in the future.
Graduations, Family Reunions, and Other Gatherings
Travel plans aren’t the only issue that may arise during the summer months. Summer is the time for big parties and barbecues, and they may not always align with your custody schedule. This is where flexibility comes into play. If your co-parent asks to switch days, or have the children an extra few hours for a party, consider it- especially if your children want to attend the gathering. Not only are you allowing your child the opportunity to make another fun, summer memory, you’re also showing your willingness to compromise, which could come in handy in the future if you need to ask for an adjustment to the custody schedule.
Staying Organized with a Co-Parenting App
It can be difficult to keep up with all the changes that may occur to the custody schedule over the summer. A co-parenting app like Our Family Wizard is a great way to keep track of any schedule changes, as well as extra expenses that may occur over the summer. In addition to a shared calendar and expense log, apps like these offer helpful features like messaging and journal entries where your co-parent can stay updated on all of the awesome experiences your child is having over the summer.
Staying Consistent When Co-Parenting Over the Summer
Children thrive on routine, so even though the summer is a time for some new adventures and more time with their other parent, it is also a time for consistency. This is especially true for children of divorce, who already endure many day-to-day changes while living in two households. Focus on what you can control over the summer, and stay flexible with the rest. A few things to keep consistent include:
- Bedtimes- an occasional late night is okay
- Rules and discipline- be sure to discuss extra screen time with your co-parent first before granting it
- Routines- make sure you get your child to any activities, appointments, summer camps, etc. on time
Stay on Top of Summer Finances
Even if you spend extra time with your child over the summer, this does not lower your child support obligations. Make sure you are keeping up on payments, and be willing to share any extra expenses like summer camps and child care. Remember, this is not about your ex, this is about your child. Expect to pay some added expenses over the summer and plan accordingly. Again, a co-parenting app like we mentioned above can be a great tool for managing shared expenses and reimbursement.