Summertime and the living is easy – unless you’re a co-parent, which in that case, likely means summer can become a hectic, busy, fast-paced time with constantly changing schedules to balance.
While the school year gives co-parents a solid structure to work with, taking up most days and many nights due to various extra-curricular activities, the summer can feel like lawless land, with rotating stints at summer camp, long-planned vacations, quick weekend getaways, and alternative childcare programs all in the mix. For co-parents, there’s also the reality of balancing two different households.
Manage your co-parenting summer with the least amount of stress by using the four tips below:
1. Create Summer Rules and Routines
Summer bucks the typical routine, but that doesn’t mean you can’t establish some rules and expectations for the kids, regardless of which household they’re in. While some parents let their kids sleep late and spend their days playing video games and watching TV, others may prefer them to have a bit more structure in their day, with chores, summer reading, and more active days.
Chat with your co-parent and establish the standards and boundaries you’ll set for your kids regardless of which house they’re at. While you don’t have to run things exactly the same way, creating some shared rules gives kids consistency and can help summer go smoothly.
2. Approving Chaperones
For parents that don’t get time off in the summer, it’s important to approve any chaperones or supervisors that will be in charge of the kids. Both parents should give their stamp of approval and be on board with any babysitter, nanny, friend, or relative pitching in to watch the kids.
3. Use a Collaborative Calendar
Summer can feel all over the place with constantly changing schedules. One household may be taking a several-week-long vacation, while the other one plans to head to the beach house each weekend after wrapping up the work week. Then there’s summer camp, family reunions, vacations with friends, and so much more.
The best way to keep track of changing schedules and keep everyone on the same page is often a collaborative calendar. You can find tons of options online that will let you input events and get approval from the other parent (if it falls out of a normal time of physical custody).
Use it to include events such as:
- Swim lessons
- Camp – day camp, sleepaway, etc.
- Summer sports
- Family reunions
- Medical appointments
Consult the Kids
This tip is especially important if you have older kids. Keep them in the loop! Older kids will start to make their own summer plans, like going on vacation with their friend’s families, pool parties, day trips to a water park, and so much more. See if you can all work together and collaborate on the calendar to find a schedule and flow that works for everyone. While your kids might not always get to do what they want, asking for their input can help them feel valued when the summer rolls around.
Summer Co-Parenting Schedule Ideas
If your normal co-parenting schedule isn’t well-suited for your unique summer plans, you can try to find a new schedule that works better with your summer calendar.
The 2-2-3 schedule is popular in the summer due to the long weekends it allows and the simple back and forth arrangement. The kids spend two days with parent A, two days with parent B, and then a long, 3-day weekend with parent A again. This pattern continues, with each parent taking turns getting a long weekend with the kids.
Alternating weeks might work better for your family. It’s usually a simple seven days with one parent, and then seven days with the other, often switching on Sunday or Monday to not interrupt the weekend.
Every Two Weeks
If long vacations are part of the summer plan, a schedule that allows the kids two weeks with each parent at a time may be more suitable. This gives each parent time to make their own summer plans while also giving them ample time to spend with the kids.
Mediating Summer Schedules
If you’re making big changes to your co-parenting plan for summer and could use some objective help developing a new plan, mediation can help. As an unbiased and objective third party, your mediator can help overcome objections and find fresh solutions to unique challenges that the summer may present so everyone can enjoy their summer.
For mediation help this summer, contact Supreme Court Certified Family Law Mediator Natalie Baird to schedule a virtual mediation session and get back on track with your co-parenting plan.