Tips for Creating a Summer Parenting Time Schedule
Co-parenting after a divorce can be challenging enough, but trying to coordinate schedules between parents and a child can often create additional frustration. Summer schedules are typically much different than during the school year and, as summer break is quickly approaching, it is important to be
Plan Ahead EarlyPlan summer schedules ahead as early as possible. The IPTG require a noncustodial parent to make their summer parenting time selection by April 1st of each year; however, if you are currently in the process of going through a divorce, creating a summer parenting time schedule should be at the top of your to-do list.
Summer vacation begins the day after school dismisses for the summer and ends the day before school resumes for the new school year. If you plan to follow the IPTG, for children 5 years and older who follow a traditional school schedule, each parent gets one-half of the child(ren)'s summer vacation. Although summer vacation is to be shared equally between parents, it can be divided in a way which works best for the parents and child(ren).
Planning an out-of-town vacation? Regular parenting time essentially flip flops for whichever parent is currently exercising their extended summer parenting time. Get that vacation scheduled and on the books early so the other parent can plan accordingly. When creating a schedule, the IPTG dictate that parents should also consider the other parent's work schedule, and a parent's work restrictions should never be used against them. Let the other parent know as early as possible if any employer-imposed restrictions exist that may conflict with a summer parenting schedule, and plan accordingly.
Be Flexible and Keep It Fun For KidsRemember that what's in the best interest of the child(ren) is most important! A summer parenting plan should be crafted to fit the child(ren)'s specific needs. Consider speaking to your child(ren), especially if they're older, about their wishes for summer vacation. What may work for a 10-year-old may not work for as well for a 16-year-old.
Although a child should never make the ultimate decision as to whether parenting time occurs, it is important to consider a child's activities and wishes, so they can also enjoy their vacation from school. If your child participated in a particular summer camp or sports league prior to your separation, the divorce should not dictate a significant change.
Be mindful fact that academic, extracurricular, and social activities are just as important to the child(ren)'s development, even if it's during your scheduled parenting time. It is not uncommon for adolescents to have to study more often, to be heavily involved in extracurricular activities (such as sports), or to have varying social activities with friends, and the IPTG recognize that parents should make all reasonable efforts to accommodate that participation.
Avoid Parenting Power StrugglesBe flexible and avoid parenting power struggles. Unless an inability to civilly and effectively communicate exists (thereby creating an environment that puts the child(ren)'s well-being at risk), communication with your former spouse is key. Even happily married couples often have differing parenting styles and a separation can intensify these differences. Pick your battles and find agreeable ways to communicate with each other.