Summer is supposed to be the most relaxed time of the year and for many of us the time of year when we can enjoy vacation time with our kids. But planning summer day trips, camps, activities, get-togethers with family and summer vacations can be difficult. Plus figuring how to pay for all of this can be stressful. Especially, for those of us who are divorced or separated. Here are my top tips for navigating summer parenting time issues:
- Keep Your Cool: Although temperatures are soaring- no need to follow suit. Be flexible whenever possible, disengage from fighting over and “sweating the small stuff” and try to keep the atmosphere as relaxed and cool as possible. Ultimately, your children’s enjoyment of their time with both their parents is influenced by how much stress and tension is brought into every visit, overnight and vacation- so play it cool;
- Work Out a Schedule in Advance: This is the time to dust off your parenting time agreement and make sure you both are on the same page about vacation times, long-holiday weekends and changes in scheduling for the summer. Being clear on travel dates, itineraries, and pick-up and drop-offs will avoid unnecessary confusion and disagreements;
- Work Out Who Pays for What In Advance: Camps, daycare, day trips, beach days, and travel costs all add up and can create hostilities and resentments that flow into co-parenting. Make sure you’ve worked out the cost of these items well in advance and have agreed on how these costs will be shared;
- Put Your Children First: Don’t be such a slave to a written parenting time agreement that you forget that the goal of these agreements is the best interests of your children. Encourage time with the other parent. Be reasonable. Ask your children what THEY want to do and be available to hear their answers- maybe this means being flexible about travel dates, pick-up times or changing parenting time days;
- Learn How to Disagree: If you can’t work out summer parenting time issues or vacation planning- or think you might get stuck on how to resolve a summer parenting time issue- before heading to court try alternative dispute resolution options. This could be working with a co-parenting counselor or participating in mediation. These professionals can be invaluable in getting you back on track in time to enjoy your summer.