Co-parenting during the summer
It’s officially summer, and in addition to the freedom of wearing bright colors and white pants again, families have the freedom to spend more quality time together with the school year out of the way. Cue family vacations, s’more nights, BBQs, camping trips and more.
For separated or divorced parents, though, summertime can shake up co-parenting schedules, which can cause stress and tension. Who gets to take your kids on the 4th of July? What if your planned vacations overlap? If you feel overwhelmed trying to navigate schedules, you’re likely not alone. The United States has about 12.9 million custodial parents.
Summer can be a relaxed, fun time for your entire family – it just takes a little planning and organizing. Here are 6 tips to set you up for successful, peaceful co-parenting and visitation this summer:
6 tips to peacefully co-parent during the summer
1. Communicate early
First and foremost, remember that while you may be separated from them, you and your co-parent are still on the same team when raising your children. Working together is critical when it comes to planning!
Experts recommend starting the discussions early and getting vacation times or special events on a shared calendar as soon as you know of them. Sit down and discuss these plans with your co-parent to get aligned – parents are much more relaxed when they are on the same page.
2. Compassion and mutual respect
It’s imperative that parents have mutual respect and don’t talk badly about one another – especially to their children. Remember that every decision you make around your child directly impacts them, and kids pick up on more than you may think. Compassion and understanding that the other parent is doing the best they can is critical.
3. Revisit your parenting plan
Summer is a significant transition period for kids, so it’s also a good time for both parents to revisit and align on their parenting plans. Especially as kids grow older, you should adapt the plan to fit their schedules, interests and pursuits while also carving out time for family.
4. Make calendars
Keep everyone in the loop – including your children – about family plans. Communication is key during the summer, and one way to effectively communicate is by having visible calendars in the main spaces of both homes. Make calendars clear and perhaps ever color-coordinated for kids, so they can visualize when they are going to their other parents’ house next.
5. Align on rules in each home
Make sure you both understand the rules in each home. For example, decide on when an appropriate TV time should be. If one home chooses to set a one-hour limit for TV time, and the other home doesn’t set a time limit, the inconsistency can be problematic for the child to adjust. This can then cause tension and stress in both houses, as the child will now refer to one parent as the “strict” one and want to spend more time at the parent’s home who allows them to watch endless amounts of TV.
Communicate on rules and boundaries and be respectful when co-parenting.
6. Remember the big picture
Summer can be a stressful time for co-parents because of the scheduling but remember that it’s a temporary season. Try not to let any tension allow you to bring up old arguments with your co-parent – this is not productive. Instead, think about what routines, habits and elements you can establish with your child that will make both parents proud. This will, in turn, lead to a full and meaningful summer season.
Talk to a lawyer to understand more about child custody rights
When dealing with child custody, visitation rights, and child support, it is advised to seek legal advice from a family law lawyer to help you navigate the situation and guide you in making big decisions. To learn about how child custody arrangements are made, what child custody questions to ask, to change a child custody order, or to receive help with another child custody matter, get a consultation from a lawyer.
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