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Starting summer off with a parenting plan

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Whoever said that summertime was for relaxing and living easy must not have been a divorced parent. Once the school year ends, all the rules change. The predictable schedule of school, activities and bed times go out the window, and this often means many changes to the parenting time schedule.

You may be dreading the summer break and the potential for conflict with your co-parent.  It is important to remember that kids often cherish their memories of summer. It makes sense for you and your co-parent to work out a way to make the season a positive one.

Working it out together

Perhaps your co-parent is already causing scheduling issues by planning activities or vacations during your parenting time. Maybe your co-parent has enrolled the kids in a sports camp when you already had a nature camp picked out. If these conflicts are going to cause issues that may end in arguments in front of the kids, you may be setting the stage for a long and frustrating summer for the whole family. Instead, you may wish to try these suggestions from a family counselor:

  • Have a meeting with your co-parent to map out a workable plan for the summer.
  • Include the kids, or at least get their input on the kinds of activities they would prefer.
  • Remember that kids' interests change from year to year, so what they enjoyed last year may be vastly different from this year's trend.
  • Appreciate and encourage your co-parent’s efforts to offer fun and interesting options for the kids.
  • Keep your summer planning focused on the needs of the kids, not on your own desire to have control of the situation.

If your co-parent normally does not have primary custody of the children, summer is a good time to increase his or her access, especially if you do not live close to each other. Of course, a long visit to a distant parent is something to discuss with the children who may not be willing to stay away from friends and neighborhood activities for an extended time.

While you may have the best intentions for creating a memorable summer for your kids, you must also ensure everyone is on the same page about summer schedules as you move through the summer months.  

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