It’s almost summer again, at least it’s starting to feel like it in Florida. Kids look forward to summertime; having fun, outdoor activities and most importantly, no school. While all that usually comes with summer break for kids, depending on the circumstances, it can be a hard time for kids of divorced parents.
Typically, children are with one parent or the other for longer periods of time over the summer than during the school year. In summer time, regular schedules and habits change. It’s this change up in routine and scheduled parent time that can produces anxiety for children and concern for parents.
Below are some tips to help separated and divorced parents make a smooth transition from a school year schedule to summer vacation time and make it stress-free for everyone.
Discuss vacation plans early. Before you book the cruise or pay the deposit on summer camp for the kids, talk to your former spouse about plans to enroll children in summer programs or taking vacation trips. That way everyone can make plans and their schedule work time and also gives children a clear understanding of how their summer break will be spent. By taking care of this sooner rather than later, it allows time for parents to identify and resolve any schedule concerns that might arise in the planning process. Good advance planning will help reduce frustrations later. Be as flexible as
Communicate about schedule changes. Good communication is key in order to keep the peace and also respect as the foundation of a healthy post-divorce relationship. Clear communication about schedule changes minimizes surprises and ensures you know what’s happening in your children’s lives. If talking to your ex-spouse in person is too stressful, consider using email to stay up to date and also a shared online calendar. However, DO NOT use your child or children as messengers of schedule and vacation updates. Planning and scheduling are adult concerns, especially in co-parenting arrangements. Work to maintain a respectful tone in your communications, and use thoughtful negotiation to resolve any conflicts.
Be positive. Your children will remember the example of your attitude and mirror your behavior with your ex-spouse. Do your best, at all times, to never speak ill of your former spouse in front of your children and avoid asking them to take sides or favor one parent’s or home over the other. In order for your children to grow and thrive as adults, they should feel free to love both parents equally. A child should never feel badly or confused about wanting to spend time with the other parent at any time of the year, vacations included.
Have fun.When you were a kid, I’m sure you looked forward to summer break, spending time with family, friends and unscheduled play time. By creating the space and opportunity for these types of situations, you’ll be positively creating those same types of memories for your own children. Spending summer vacation time with each parent, is simply part of the scheduling process that the adults must properly manage. What your children will remember is how they felt and what they experienced through their parents’ interactions with each other.
Though summer vacation may require additional planning and communication with your ex-spouse, it can also be a time that you create special memories that will last forever. Cooperating and be flexible with your former spouse for summer plans and remember to put the kids first.