Maximizing your kids’ summer schedule in a two-home family
By Felicia Soleil, JD
Summer is fast approaching. As a divorced or separated parent with kids, have you figured out your summer schedule yet? In a flexible co-parenting relationship, summertime offers up plenty of opportunities to maximize your non-work hours with your children and help them experience the freedom and fun that childhood summers should be.
Often, the residential schedule (parenting plan) that you and your co-parent initially created revolves around developing a structured schedule to maximize success for your children during the school year. A good plan often minimizes transfers between households during the school week and has the kids settled down and prepared on Sunday nights before the new school week begins. They know when they will see each parent, whether for a dinner visit, overnight or to chaperone them to their practices and events that week. They know their homework will be completed and on time, and in which home their uniforms, instruments and sports gear are kept.
However, the summer schedule can provide a welcome release from all this structure for everyone if both parents can be flexible and communicate with one another, and value creating a laid-back summer of childhood memories for their kids. I always recommend getting together in early May to start this planning so each parent can share in memorable vacations and hopefully enjoy extra time with their children where circumstances allow.
Many families have a predictable time when they take vacation each year, and some parents are dependent on the policies of their employer and need to request time off early in the year for the summer. Ideally, parents will work together to accommodate employer-related vacation restrictions of the other party. If overlap of requested vacation is unavoidable, parents can alternate who gets first pick on vacation times each year. (For example, Mom gets first pick even-numbered years and Dad gets odd-numbered years.)
Additionally, avoid back-to-back vacations. It is not a competition as to who will have the greater adventure, and exhausted kids don’t make for fun vacations. Kids need unstructured time at home with each parent as well. Swimming, fishing, bike-riding, camping in the backyard and just hanging out with friends without the demands of homework and early bedtimes can be enjoyed even more when children don’t have to worry about a tight parenting schedule. Can you and your co-parent agree on letting your “kids be kids” during this time?
As long as both parents agree on any needed supervision for the children during work hours, such as day camps, extended families, fun teenage babysitters, etc., parents who mutually agree that summer break should be a special time for their kids can depart from a structured school schedule. With a little advance planning, you can enhance not only your children’s summer schedule but also your own.
Felicia Soleil helps her clients in achieving a resolution that fosters both a compassionate ending to their union and a healthy new beginning for them and their families so they can focus on moving on, rather than simply moving out. Felicia can be reached at 253.853.6940. All consultations are strictly confidential.