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5 Stress-Less Summer Break Co-Parenting Tips

July 09, 2024
Summer Break Co Parenting

“It’s Summertime! And the livin’s easy.” Or so the song lyrics say, at least.

Summer break is a glorious time to wind down from all the hustle and bustle of the traditional school year schedule. School functions, after-school activities, and (for some) sports seasons hit the pause button.

Sometimes, summer break can throw a custody schedule out of whack. Even if you happen to be excellent communicators with a positive relationship and a great parenting plan, summer schedules present special challenges when the kids aren’t in school anymore.

Whether you like to pack up and travel or enjoy time at home, we have some ideas to help you and your co-parent plan a season of enjoyment with your children. After all, you have 18 summers with them before they’re all grown up.

Ideally, you should plan your summer schedules well in advance with your children and co-parent. If you haven’t started yet, don’t panic. There’s no time like the present to plan the rest of it. Let’s discuss some helpful tips on what you and your co-parent can do to work together and ensure fun, lasting memories.

Tip #1 Ask Your Kids

Gather ideas about what’s meaningful to your children by asking them what a fun summer looks like for them. Maybe you don’t need to travel or fill their days with camps for a good time.

Will an older child need to work a part-time job? Does one want to go to summer camp? What does that look like for their days and your bank account?

Have those discussions with your child; it’s healthy for their development. They’ll probably want to help plan even more as they grow older.

So, your child just requested a months-long stay at Disney. It’s okay that you don’t go-for-broke trying to bend to their every whim and fantasy. The younger they are, the less they understand money considerations. You at least get an idea of what they’re thinking.

Consider this a good time to start educating them about the family budget and balancing money in versus money out. Maybe you can open a special account to save on a trip for a future summer.

Tip #2 Communicate With Your Co-Parent

Write to or talk with your co-parent about your child’s summer bucket list. Create a master list between the two of you and decide what’s doable. Consider your finances, work schedules, childcare needs, and vacations without kids.

Document the things you agree to do and pay for using your shared apps for divorced parents for expense tracking and scheduling.

Need some ideas for family-friendly fun on a budget? Try typing “what to do with your child during the summer for divorced parents” into your browser’s search bar.

Tip #3 Review Your Parenting Plan, BUT Be Flexible

You and your co-parent could stick to your regular custody schedule or create one specifically for the season. Review and reconcile that against your summer plans.

Would it work better if you and your co-parent alternated weeks instead of sticking to the usual schedule? How about a 50/50 split now that the school day isn’t impacted? What about considering extended weekends?

Flexibility is important, especially keeping in mind that plans can change. With your child’s best interest in mind, work with your co-parent to create a solution that works well for everyone.

Since schedules get a bit funky over summer vacation, it’s a great time to start using a family app for divorced parents to ensure everyone stays in the know.

Tip #4 Set Boundaries

Summer can wreak havoc on children’s wake/sleep, activity, and eating schedules. What’s non-negotiable when it comes to your child’s routine?

Aim to set a firm foundation of routines you and your co-parent can keep consistent between your two households. It’s helpful to agree on some general rules and guidelines for the following:

  • Wake and sleep times
  • Diet and eating schedule
  • Screen time
  • Physical activity
  • Chores

Tip #5 Stay in Communication

Keep your co-parent in the loop. Summertime can bring so many changes and activities. It’s important to tell your co-parent about any appointments, events, or child-related news.

Schedule a time to communicate in writing or by phone if it helps. However, you choose to do it, remember to keep your child’s best interest at heart and avoid surprising or overstepping their other parent.

Child Custody and Vacation FAQs

Note: Always review your parenting plan and custody agreement and speak with your co-parent before vacationing with your child when you have joint custody.

  • Q: Can I travel with my child if my custody case is pending?
    A: Consult with your legal representative and review any court orders or agreements before traveling with your child out-of-state if your custody case is pending. If existing court orders mandate it, you must obtain written permission from your co-parent or a court order to travel out of state or country. Your co-parent needs to sign off on a travel consent letter. Your travel may be limited if your co-parent has expressed concerns about the safety or well-being of your children.
  • Q: Do I need my co-parent’s permission to travel out of state after custody is finalized?
    A: Yes, most cases require permission from your co-parent to travel out of the state or country, especially if it interrupts their custody time. The court can grant you permission if you have tried to contact your co-parent but haven’t gotten an answer. You will need to provide proof that you tried. Again, review your custody orders regarding information about leaving the state or country.
  • Q: What documentation should my co-parent provide me if they want to travel with our kid(s)?
    A: Collect general information about:

    • Where they’re going and staying
    • Who will be traveling with them
    • The length of the trip
    • An estimated itinerary
    • How you can contact them
    • How it affects your custody time

Make Great Summertime Memories

Check in regularly with your children and co-parent regarding summer break plans. Make the summer great by listening to their needs and desires. Always keep your child’s and co-parent’s best interests at heart so that you all have the best season possible.

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