Before you know it the end of the academic year will be here and your kids out of school for the summer. Balancing quality time with your children during their summer break can be a struggle when you’re still working full time and your kids have other activities lined up – summer camp and sports-related camps, play-dates and sleepovers with friends, out-of-town vacations, advanced classes and driving school, part-time jobs, and other goings-on.
Often when one parent is the primary custodian – meaning the children may reside more days with one parent than the other – that parent can feel that all the responsibility for the children rests on his/her shoulders. Alternatively, the non-custodial parent may feel he/she misses out on experiencing certain activities with the kids during the academic year because of tightly packed schedules and strictly defined parenting access times. The summertime is a perfect opportunity to try a different approach.
With a little teamwork, you and your co-parent can manage your own busy schedules with those of your children during the summer, and summertime changes allows both parents to share in all the joys and all the responsibilities that raising children involve by having both parents active in the day to day lives of the children.
Whether you and your co-parent are currently separated, or are divorced, effectively co-parenting to manage your summer schedules with your children’s can help you achieve the goals of meeting all of your and your children’s obligations, while also carving out more quality time to spend with them.
And it all starts with a conversation. Reach out to your co-parent and discuss a plan for the summer. Sometimes that plan can include more sleepovers with your co-parent than the parenting access schedule calls for during the academic year, and/or it can include more time spent with other relatives that your children miss out on seeing during non-summer months.
If both you and your co-parent are able to agree on summer changes to your parenting access schedule, you may not need to modify your court order to reflect the summer changes (Note: This is dependent on the language in your court order and your state’s rules. It’s best to review your parenting access orders and consult with an attorney if the language seems ambiguous, and/or if the changes should be memorialized in a legally binding instrument, and/or if the changes should be officially modified via court order).
If you and your co-parent are not able to effectively co-parent yet, the summertime is also a great time to enroll in family mediation, where you can obtain the communication and conflict resolution skills necessary to work together to meet the needs of your children from an experienced and certified family mediator. And in cases where more intensive training may be necessary, the summer is a great time to attend co-parenting workshops and even family therapy sessions, where trained therapists can help you overcome the obstacles that keep you from effectively co-parenting with each other.
Start today to eliminate the negative patterns and destructive communication styles that have kept you from effectively co-parenting with each other.
I read somewhere that there are only 940 Saturdays between your child’s birth and their leaving for college. That means that you have maybe 18 summers with them as “children” – such a small amount of time to create childhood summertime memories for your kids to reflect on later in their adult life. Shouldn’t their summertime memories be filled with happy, positive, and healthy moments spent with both parents working together in their best interests?
I think we can all agree they should.