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Sharing The Summer: A Guide For Co-Parents Creating Meaningful Experiences
Sharing The Summer: A Guide For Co-Parents Creating Meaningful Experiences

Navigating a shared summer as a divorced parent can be an emotionally charged and challenging experience, yet it also presents an opportunity to foster a positive environment for your children. Because the summer months are often filled with vacations, family gatherings, and a great deal of unstructured time, you and your co-parent must clearly communicate with each other and carefully coordinate your plans so that each of you are able to spend quality time with your kids.

This is sometimes easier said than done, as emotions from your divorce may linger and differing parenting styles or unresolved conflicts could add to the tension. However, it’s essential to put the emphasis on the well-being of your children. You only have 18 summers with them, and while that may seem like a lot now, ask any parent and they will tell you – they will fly by!

Empathy is also the key to successful co-parenting. While you and your former spouse may have your disagreements, at the end of the day they want the same thing as you – to create lasting and meaningful memories that your children can cherish their whole lives. Open communication about schedules, plans, and expectations can help reduce misunderstandings and conflicts. Flexibility and willingness to compromise are crucial, as unexpected changes and opportunities often arise during the summer.

In this blog, we’ll take a deep dive into the most impactful things you can do to minimize conflict with your co-parent and make this summer one to remember for your kids!

Communication And Planning

Every family’s schedule and routine will look different during the summer depending on the ages of the kids and any potential summer travel plans. You and your co-parent will need to make accommodations for your children while school is out of session, which may consist of daycare, summer camp or programs, or even hiring a nanny or babysitter. You’ll also need to discuss and plan for any trips or experiences you each want to have with the kids.

It may be possible that the parenting plan you created when your divorce was finalized already outlines how you will both account for summer break and its accompanying adjustments. It could still be worthwhile to reach out to your co-parent to ensure that you are both still in agreement on those plans, or whether changes need to be made.

If your parenting plan does not address summer break, the two of you will need to work together to develop one. Doing so as early as possible can help you avoid misunderstandings and scheduling conflicts, thus minimizing any frustration and hostility from forming. These conversations are best had in-person or over a scheduled phone call, if possible, but it doesn’t mean that you have to be best friends with your former partner; it’s perfectly acceptable to keep conversation brief and businesslike as long as you’re still respectful.

If you aren’t able to make a plan together successfully or if your co-parent is causing conflict for the sake of jeopardizing your intended plans, it may be necessary to consult with a skilled custody mediator or lawyer.

Prioritizing Your Kids

To a reasonable extent, you should prioritize your kids’ interests and preferences as much as you can. This paves the way for them to have the most fun and fulfilling summer break that they can have! It might be easier said than done, and you may struggle with the fact that, though your favorite sport is baseball, all your child wants to do is go to soccer camp.

Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about them. While you may have many fond memories of going to the bowling alley or the aquarium with your parents during your childhood summers, those activities might not interest your kid. Getting their input on potential summer excursions could make the memories you create significantly more special.

Handling Conflicts And Challenges

Conflict between your co-parent and you can arise at any time of the year, but it is especially possible that it could arise during the summer when it’s easy for wires to get crossed in scheduling and planning. Tension and disagreements will most certainly not add to the magic of your kids’ summer, so it’s important to know how to effectively overcome these challenges when they inevitably pop up.

First, the “blame game” is never the answer; you should both be focused on finding solutions to your problems, not pointing fingers at each other for being the “wrong” one. Moreover, knowing when it is the appropriate time for you to apologize is key, as is knowing when it’s time to graciously accept one.

Instead, identify common sources of conflict and work with your co-parent to build a strong framework for communication about those situations. Conflict resolution between co-parents is easier when there is a strong base of cooperation in the relationship!

Remaining Flexible 

As critical as it is to make a plan and stick with it, being able to remain flexible is one of the central characteristics of any parent. Even the best laid plans can go sideways sometimes, especially when kids are involved, forcing you to pivot (again, to a reasonable extent).

For example, if extended family on your co-parent’s side decide to make a surprise visit from out-of-state, the previous schedule you agreed on might need to be adjusted to accommodate that, especially if your children do not get to see these family members often.

Remember, it may be you who needs to ask for an adjustment next time, so treat your co-parent with the courtesy you would want them to bestow upon you.

Making Time For Your Own Self-Care. You Matter, Too!

Maintaining your own well-being directly impacts your ability to effectively parent and manage co-parenting responsibilities. Navigating the challenges of co-parenting can be stressful and emotionally draining, making it essential for you to carve out time for activities you enjoy, and that rejuvenate and relax you.

This may include exercising, picking up new or former hobbies, socializing with friends, or simply taking quiet moments for yourself. When you don’t neglect your own self-care, you’ll find that you can reduce stress and improve your mental health, thus increasing your overall patience and resilience!

Make This Summer One For The Books! The Men’s Divorce Law Firm Is Here To Help

If you’ve noticed patterns of insufficiency in your co-parenting relationship, it may be time for legal intervention. Whether your circumstances warrant mediation or a complete overhaul of your parenting plan, our skilled attorneys can put you in the best position for moving forward successfully.

We take the time to get to know you, your family, and the common issues you’re facing so that we can implement resolutions customized to your needs and goals. Call today to book an initial consultation and learn more about how we can serve you!