Summer often means different timesharing schedules than the school year for co-parents. Changes in schedules can come with logistical and emotional challenges; from accommodating vacations and summer camps to potentially longer stretches without seeing your children. As a divorce lawyer and a mom who has been divorced for the , I have navigated many summers as a co-parent. Here are four of my best tips for successfully co-parenting this summer.
1. Review your Parenting Plan
Before you get with your ex to discuss schedules, you should review your Parenting Plan. Hopefully you have the kind of relationship with your co-parent that you aren’t having to constantly refer to and review your parenting plan. Because summer can be a little different, it is important to remind yourself of the things you and your former spouse have already agreed to. Who is responsible for paying for summer camps, is it a shared expense or does the parent who is time sharing pay for camps? Did you already discuss transportation to and from summer activities? What did you agree on about vacation time? Once you’ve reviewed your Parenting Plan, schedule a time with your ex to discuss summer schedules.
2. Work With Each Other
Every year before the summer, my ex and I meet up with our calendars to coordinate our schedules. We go over our planned summer vacations, summer camps for the kids, grandparent visits, etc… We work together when one of us may need an accommodation outside of our timesharing plan to make plans work, and find ways to make up the time elsewhere.
3. Honor Each Other’s Time
It’s only natural to miss your children while they are away from you for long stretches, and it’s good to check in with them. But my advice: keep it short and sweet. Don’t intrude on your ex’s time. Give your kids the space to fully bond and enjoy their time with their other parent, just as you would want the same in return. I have found that setting the tone for generosity with one another goes a long way in making us successful co-parents.
4. Consider a Mid-Week Meet Up
Our school year timesharing plan is 2-2-3 (for other common timesharing plans, check out my blog post) meaning we are used to seeing our children regularly, and because we live close to one another this arrangement works best for our children. During the summers however, we move to a one week on/one week off schedule to accommodate for vacations and visits with extended family. My ex and I decided to add a mid-week meet up during the summer. This allows the non-timesharing parent a 4 hour lunch or dinner time block mid week. This is beneficial to both of us. It gives the timesharing parent a little breather, and keeps the non-timesharing parent from going so long without seeing the kids. Obviously this only works when vacations are not scheduled, but it has been a great addition to our summer schedule.
Keep these tips in mind if you and your ex are able to work together or if you are considering a divorce and contemplating parenting plan options. Please reach out if you need help in creating a timesharing schedule that will actually work for your family. As a divorce attorney who has also actually lived a parenting plan herself, I know how to make it doable for your family.