Even the most amicable co-parenting relationships can become strained when circumstances change, and one unavoidable annual change is summer break from school. When kids are out of school for the summer months, routines go out the window and it quickly becomes a challenge for both parents to maintain a fair balance in their shared time. While three months of sun might sound great right now, the reality of having children home all day, every day, can weigh heavily on the primary caregiver. Here are four tips we recommend most to help make co-parenting a breeze this summer.
4 Tips for Co-Parenting Over the Summer Break
1. Flexibility is Essential
It’s important to be open and honest with your ex-partner about your expectations and needs for the summer break and ensure that you agree what aspects of childcare you are able and willing to take on. You should specify any periods where work or travel plans render you unable to fulfill your usual responsibilities or will need to agree to a change in your custody arrangements. It’s likely that your existing co-parenting arrangements will need to be flexible to accommodate everyone’s needs.
If you feel that a formal co-parenting agreement will be required to guarantee a fair split of responsibilities over the summer break, you can always consult with a lawyer knowledgeable in New Mexico family and custody law for their advice and support. By taking the time to plan now, you can plan for a fair balance of responsibility over the summer break and that your children will be able to enjoy time with both of their parents.
2. Agree on How to Split Costs
The cost of having the kids home from school can add up quickly. Unlike paying for the usual school lunches, putting together the time, money, and effort to feed them, in addition to all the usual clothing and activity costs, gets expensive fast. While it’s incredibly common, divorced parents should do their best not to try to outdo each other; instead, both parents should work together to ensure that their children experience a comfortable balance of time and activities with each parent.
In a healthy co-parenting relationship, where one parent will necessarily have to take on greater responsibilities, the co-parent could agree to help fund the increased costs experienced by the primary parent during this period. This will help to maintain an amicable relationship in addition to creating a more positive experience and memorable summer for the children.
3. Be Kind
Children who are expected to be away from their primary caregiver for a longer period than usual are likely to get homesick and may react in out of character or generally rebellious ways. It’s essential that their parents and any new partners or children respect this and support the child in handling and expressing their feelings.
In these circumstances, both parents need to communicate effectively and the child must be allowed to contact their primary parent when desired to help them feel safe and in control of the situation. A child may be expected to participate in activities or social functions that are new to them while staying with their secondary parent during summer break, and that parent must remember to take the time to help their child settle into these new situations and provide encouragement to help them enjoy rather than fear the experience.
4. Roll with the Punches
Things can go wrong – it’s a part of life. The key is accepting this and finding solutions to any issues that arise that both parents and the children are comfortable with. For example, these situations can include if the child comes down with the flu and isn’t able to attend a pre-planned family gathering or transition to the care of the other parent, or if one parent is called into a work emergency and isn’t able to take the child on the originally intended date.
Both parents involved must be honest with each other about the sudden change in circumstances and agree on the best way to handle it. This could require a last-minute change to custody arrangements or for the child to temporarily attend a summer camp for a few weeks. Maintaining a good relationship with your former spouse during the summer break depends on both parents having open and honest conversations, especially when something happens that forces you to both change your plans and collaborate to find solutions.
Co-parenting over the summer break may be different from the arrangements you share during the school year, but with a bit of planning, consistency, and care, you’ll be able to look forward to the extra time you get to spend with your child. If you need extra assistance putting together a summer co-parenting plan or want to learn more about successful co-parenting, contact the Law Office of Dorene A. Kuffer. Our team will be happy to help with any of your family law questions and make sure your children experience the best co-parenting arrangement possible.