Successfully Co-Parenting in the Summer
***Updated July 7, 2022
Summer is here and we can already hear the cheers going up from kids everywhere. They’re ready for days filled with sun, camps, vacations, pool trips, visits with friends, and more. However, separated parents have more to think about when it comes to the summer months. The change in seasons means a change in schedules and a potential significant disruption to the Spring-Fall custody calendar.
However, with some planning, lots of communication, and a little flexibility, your summer can be just as fun as your kids’. Our tips for successfully co-parenting through summer vacation can help you and your ex lay a solid foundation for a fun summer vacation for everyone.
9 Tips for Successful Summer Co-Parenting
Here are our five tips for ensuring that you and your co-parent can give your kids a summer they will love.
Tip #1: Plan early.
Whether you’ll be sticking around the house all summer or are planning to take advantage of the warm weather and high vaccination rates with lots of travel, it’s important to make sure that you and your ex have agreed on a plan for the summer months. It’s best to start this process earlier rather than later so, if plans do need to be changed, there is time to make those changes.
Whatever the plans, you may need to discuss an alternative custody schedule with your co-parent to accommodate any changes needed based on your summer plans and work schedules. Will you and your co-parent be able to maintain the same residential schedule? Or would switching to weekends or alternating weeks work better for you both?
The earlier you can have these conversations, the better. That way everyone has the time they need to make the adjustments required to accommodate any long-term schedule change.
Tip #2: Communicate more than you think you need.
Schedule changes, out-of-town trips, and other summer disruptions can cause anxiety in the co-parent not directly involved. When figuring out what to communicate with your co-parent, think about what you would want to know if you were in their shoes. Things like:
- How to get in touch with the kids while you’re gone.
- A general idea of how often they’ll be able to talk.
- When you’re leaving and when you expect to return.
- Any other details relevant to the kids’ health and safety.
Additionally, it can be helpful in the planning process to present tentative dates for camps and vacations you are thinking about. This will allow your co-parent to plan accordingly and can help avoid double-booked vacations.
Tip #3: Don’t forget to talk about childcare needs.
Summer tends to interrupt childcare plans that work perfectly the rest of the year. Your school-age kids are out of school. Your daycare-age kids will be joining you on vacation or going to different camps of their own. And you and your co-parent’s work schedules may not be able to accommodate that.
Incorporating child care into your summer planning talks means that you will both be on the same page regarding what needs exist and the best way to address them. It could mean leaving the kids with a trusted family member, sharing a summer nanny (if you live close enough together), or splitting the cost of day camps.
Tip #4: Be flexible when you can.
As much as a schedule can help manage expectations, it’s unnecessary to have every single day of summer vacation planned to the last second. Your kids are probably expecting their summer to have a little spontaneity, whether it’s a last-minute invitation to a sleepover or a pool day that goes well into the evening. It’s important to be flexible enough to be able to go with the flow when these things happen.
Tip #5: Don’t forget to take care of yourself.
You want to have a great summer as well. Don’t forget to take the time that you need to cope with any feelings that arise, especially if you’ll be seeing your kids less due to camps or vacations with your co-parent. This is especially important if this is your first summer co-parenting.
Tip #6: Use Online Tools to Get Organized
Having a Google Calendar for the child is great for more than just summer but is an easy way to coordinate changing family events. For those parents who need something more robust or still have problems communicating after divorce, there are co-parenting apps out there such as OurFamilyWizard, TalkingParentings, coParenter, 2Houses, Cozi and much more that will help you communicate, manage shared expenses, schedule parenting time and receive important information from the other parent such as the results of a recent doctor’s visit. If your Parenting Plan allows you to have a block of time with the child during the summer, schedule that block on the child’s calendar long before the school year ends and/or as soon as you have set plans.
Tip #7: Coordinate Your Rules
Can you imagine having two different sets of rules at work? You would constantly be worried about doing the wrong thing and getting fired. The same goes for kids. Align the rules sets of each household with the other as much as possible such as the amount of screen time allowed, bedtime during the summer, curfew, and daily chore lists. Kids thrive on structure even when they are on vacation.
Tip #8: Be A Role Model
Kids pick up on and reproduce the actions of their parents. When two parents disrespect each other, this is recreated in learned behavior. Teaching children compassion, understanding and respect is easy – show it to the other parent. When the child is with you, do not talk negatively or criticize the other parent or their significant other or family.
Tip #9: Review Your Current Plan
Washington State allows you to change your Parenting Plan upon a showing of a substantial change in circumstances. As children grow up, sometimes the Parenting Plan does not grow with them. Talk to an attorney about revising your Parenting Plan if it is outdated or your summer schedule just isn’t working anymore.
Summer doesn’t have to be stressful for you and your co-parent. Early planning, lots of communication, and self-care means that you will have a good idea of what to expect and be better able to handle any curve balls that come your way in the next few months. If you need help writing a parenting plan or settling any disputes that arise when planning your summer schedule, please call 206.409.4086 or send us a message.