Even with school being virtual for many kids across the country, summer break is still children’s favorite time in the year. The extended break from school means months of spending time having fun and visiting family and friends or maybe even going on a road trip or two. Unfortunately, if you share your children with an ex, summer break is a little less exciting. A carefree summer can quickly become filled with scheduling and drop offs. There are ways to avoid this summer break nightmare if you’re willing to start planning now and lean in towards flexibility and compromise.
Shared custody during the summer break can be frustrating, but here are 6 steps to help you plan for a great vacation for you and your kids.
Start planning early
Don’t wait until the last minute to get started with your summer planning. The more schedules you have to accommodate the harder it will be to create a plan that works for all parties. Start your summer plan by marking the last day of school and go from there. Schedule a time to plan with your co-parent so you can officially begin creating a calendar. Once you know everyone’s plans for the summer, you can start working around prior engagements and unavailable periods. If you haven’t reached out to your co-parent yet, don’t worry, there’s still time for you to start now.
Get buy-in from your brood
It’s tempting for parents to take the reins and make all the decisions for the summer, but as your children age, they will have more of an opinion about their summer break. If this is the first time you’ve considered asking for your children’s input for summer break, maybe start small. Ask them what they’d enjoy doing for a certain free weekend on the calendar.
Finalizing summertime childcare plans
If your kiddos are underage to cannot be trusted to safely care for their needs during the day, you may need to work out a schedule with your co-parent that shares the childcare responsibilities. You may be able to find a creative solution if you put your heads together and start planning early. If you have older teenagers looking for summer employment, this may be the perfect time to sign them up for some childcare classes to get them ready to care for their younger siblings.
Create rules and make sure everyone’s aware of changes
The first thing children look forward to during summer break is staying up late and sleeping in. They are not likely to be open to keeping the school schedule all summer, so now is a great time to work with your co-parent to create a set of rules for how each household will operate during the summer break. It’s not beneficial for there to be one set of rules at each house because it’s hard for the kids and the parents.
Budget for the summer break spending
Summer break is notorious for sneaking up on parents. Whether it’s the additional snacks or the increased time at home in front of the video games system, the summer months seem to stretch the seams of the family budget. Higher energy costs and more trips to the grocery store add up. Kids will inevitably need summer clothes, shoes, and swimwear to get through the break, so work on a budget with your co-parent so you’re not caught off guard.
Try to remain flexible
We all love a good schedule, and planning is paramount to a successful co-parenting strategy, but it’s not necessary to have every weekend and holiday planned during the summer break. While it’s great to have a plan for what each day looks like over summer break, you should try to be flexible enough to bend to the changes of life. Things happen and events come up. A little spontaneity is not the worst thing.
Summer memories aren’t always created from calendared meetings and planned outings. While you should work to create a summer vacation plan with your co-parent, your children will be happy simply to have time together with their parents.