As we enter the warm and sunny days of summer, parenting time should create positive and lasting memories. With open communication, planning, flexibility, and prioritizing best interests of the children, parenting time can be maximized to create an enriching summer experience for both parents and children.
Effective communication is vital in any co-parenting relationship, but especially during the summer season because schedules and events can be unpredictable. Maintaining open communication ensures that both parents are aware of any changes to plans and can make adjustments if necessary. Be proactive in sharing information about summer activities, vacations, and changes to work schedules. Regular communication builds trust and ensures that both parents stay informed and involved.
Develop a detailed summer schedule that outlines each parent’s allocated parenting time. Take into consideration factors such as holidays, family gatherings, weddings, vacations, reunions, camps, travel time, and any other significant events that may impact the schedule. Having a clear and comprehensive plan in place helps to maintain stability and allows everyone to prepare for the summer months ahead.
Flexibility is essential when it comes to summer parenting time arrangements. Summer is a time for relaxation and spontaneity. Recognizing that unexpected opportunities or changes may arise (playdates, impromptu barbecues, invitations, a surprise summer Friday off from work) and remaining open to compromise to adjust schedules and accommodate these events will aid in making appropriate modifications that fit your children’s needs and interests as well as unplanned social gatherings. Keep in mind the Golden Rule of co-parenting, “what comes around goes around.” If you are flexible, you will likely get flexibility in return. If you are unwilling to accommodate the other parent’s request to change, why would you expect the same in return?
When planning your parenting time, be creative in how time is spent—i.e. have one-to-one time between one child and one parent, specific to their interest (with the other child or children with the other parent). Coordinate summer activities so the child has unique experiences with each parent rather than duplicitous events. Alternatively, plan activities together so that experiences are shared as a family.
Create a list of fun, age-appropriate activities, and outings to enjoy during your parenting time. This could include trips to the beach, picnics in the park, hiking adventures, museum visits, or attending local events. Involving your children in the planning process can make them feel empowered and excited about the upcoming summer activities. A seemingly inconsequential trip to the town pool or to get ice cream can be a lasting memory.
Navigating parenting time in the summer requires careful planning, effective communication, and a cooperative mindset. At Berner Law and Mediation Group, we intentionally discuss summer parenting time as a separate topic rather than one that is automatically subsumed within the same parenting time schedule during the year. All of the above strategies are introduced to the conversation so that separated parents can maximize a positive and enjoyable experience during the limited summers that exist with their young children.
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