Spring has sprung throughout the Philadelphia metro and school-age children throughout the area are counting down the days until summer break. When it comes to summer vacations, camps, family trips and general day-to-day activities, for many parents, summer presents both opportunities and challenges. If you’re a divorced or separated parent who shares child custody with an ex, summer is likely an especially hectic time.
After what may have been a shaky start to the school year, now roughly eight months in, you and your ex have finally hit your co-parenting stride. It’s no wonder then that, with the school year winding down, the thought of having to start all over and figure out summer custody and vacation plans is causing you to feel stressed and anxious.
To make summer planning easier and to avoid any major meltdowns from you, your ex or your child, it’s wise to keep the following four tips in mind:
- Communicate early and often – If you and your ex haven’t started discussing summer plans, start now. Email and a shared electronic calendar are often the best ways to communicate any planned vacations, family visits, camp ventures and other important dates.
- Talk and sort out differences – If scheduling or other conflicts come up while planning or during the summer, resolve to compromise with your ex and work to find a resolution that everyone can agree upon.
- Consider your child’s feelings and well-being – Depending on your child’s age, the schedule and plans that you and your ex agree upon may be quite different from what your son or daughter had in mind for his or her summer break. While some things are nonnegotiable, whenever possible, include your child in the planning process and present options. Doing so can go a long way towards helping your child feel more in control and that his or her opinion is valued.
- Don’t take it personally – What child wouldn’t rather spend the day at the amusement park like last week with your ex, than spend the day running errands? There are bound to be times when your child says or does things that may hurt your feelings and make you feel inferior to your ex. Try your best to keep things in perspective and resist the urge to one-up your ex.
After a long school year, summer break is an important opportunity for your child, and you, to relax and have some fun. While summer can also present new scheduling and logistical conflicts for you and your ex, these issues can be overcome when you pledge to communicate often, compromise when necessary and always act with compassion.