Co-Parenting in Summer 2021: Considering COVID-19, Travel, and More
Summer break is the best time for kids, but it can be one of the most stressful seasons for parents, especially divorced parents who are co-parenting their children.
This year, just as with last year, the COVID-19 pandemic adds an extra layer of complexity to the matter. The major change in schedules, plus changing travel restrictions and health and safety guidelines make it imperative to communicate early and often with your co-parent to avoid frustrations.
Unique Factors to Consider
Summer 2021 presents unique circumstances that co-parents should consider when making their summer co-parenting plans.
As you think about summer with regard to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it can be hard to know what the best option is. Health and safety regulations and recommendations are evolving, and practices in one place may not be the same as a vacation destination.
As you think about your summer travel plans and time-sharing, ask the following questions:
- Is anyone in my household, or my co-parent’s household high-risk?
- Are my children vaccinated, or will they be vaccinated soon?
- Does either parent have more access to open, outdoor spaces for the kids to use?
The coronavirus pandemic was a black swan event that no one was fully prepared for, so don’t feel like you have to stick to your original parenting plan exactly. There should be room for flexibility to ensure you, your family, your ex’s family, and your children are safe and cared for all summer.
One of the best parts of summer break is summer vacation. With many places opening back up to foreign visits, many families are planning exciting getaways with their children to make up for lost travel time this past year. To ensure that things go smoothly and minimize logistical problems, plan any and all vacations as early as you can, and communicate transparently with your co-parent to avoid any conflicting travel dates.
Both parents will likely want to take a trip of some sort with the children, so leave space in the schedule for your kids to take two trips – one with each parent.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has said that a summer camp is a safe option for children in 2021 as long as they follow proper safety measures, like hand-washing, social distancing, and wearing masks when necessary. It’s a welcomed opportunity for kids to play outside, socialize with friends, and get creative in ways they haven’t been able to during the pandemic.
If you or your co-parent have hesitations about sending your child to camp, ask camp organizers about their health and safety policies to put your mind at ease.
When bringing up the option of summer camp with your ex, talk about who will select the camp and who will pay the cost. You may decide to review your options together and split the cost, or it may work out better for one parent to pay or one parent to choose the camp program. There may be guidelines on the subject outlined in your parenting plan or marital settlement agreement, so always refer to that first.
Summer Co-Parenting Tips
Beyond these three unique considerations, use the following tips for a smooth summer break with your co-parent:
- Plan Early. Don’t wait until the last minute.
- Ask Your Kids. Find out how they’d like to spend their summer.
- Finalize Childcare. Nail down daycare, summer camp, or babysitters as needed.
- Budget for Spending. Summer spending can go up, so be sure to budget for some extra spending in July and August.
- Stay Flexible. Remember that everything might not go according to plan, and be flexible in working with your co-parent.
- Schedule Time for Your Summer. Don’t forget about yourself this summer. Make some time for adult relaxation and give the same opportunity to your co-parent if possible.
Summer Break is Here – Are You Ready?
For most students, summer break has officially arrived. This time off for kids can be a challenging time for co-parents, but summer can be better for everyone involved by planning in advance, communicating clearly, and considering the unique circumstances of 2021. Use the tips provided here to get your summer off to a great start.