6 Considerations for Your Summer Co-Parenting Plan
When summer break hits for schools every year, it always feels like it has come so fast! Before you know it, your kids will be out of school for the summer, and your normal routine will be out of commission.
For co-parents, a change in the children’s schedule will likely cause changes to your normal parenting time or shared custody routine. This makes it especially important for you to plan ahead for the summer routine.
In formulating summer parenting plans, it is possible that hiccups could arise that run the risk of creating conflict. You might already have plans in mind for when you'd like to take your kids on a trip, while your co-parent might also have similar thoughts on summer travel.
Before any scheduling issues have any effect on your children’s actual summertime routine, here are six key points to consider when working out a summer co-parenting plan.
Decide if you need to make changes to your regular parenting time routine
The shared custody or parenting time routine that you have going year-round might be thrown for a loop by new plans that pop up over the summer. Plus, simply having your kids out of school frees up a lot of their time.
Don't wait until the last minute to make adjustments to your parenting schedule for the summer! Check in with your co-parent to see if you really do need to consider making a substantial change to your routine just for the summer months.
Be sure to refer to your existing parenting plan in case it already accounts for adjustments for the summer or specifies how you must go about making changes. As always, your attorney or other family law professionals that you work with will be the best people to reach out to if you run into any confusion or issues in planning for summer parenting time.
Check-in early about travel plans
Communicate with your co-parent about your individual vacation plans for the summer, especially any travel plans that would involve your kids. If you open the lines of communication early enough, you may be able to avoid running into problems over conflicting vacation dates.
Don’t reserve anything until you’ve had a conversation with your co-parent about it. Your dates may already be pretty concrete to you, but still, it is worse to change plans after you have already made reservations than it is to do so beforehand.
Moreover, telling your co-parent early on about your vacation plans will hopefully allow you to lock down those days without conflict and give your co-parent a better idea as to when they could take a vacation if they are planning one, too.
Know what your personal schedule will look like
Check your work and social schedules for any plans that could affect your summer parenting time plan.
Whether it is a family picnic that you want to bring the kids to or an out-of-town work conference, get these dates marked on the schedule now. Planning ahead for your personal schedule will allow you to work out any swaps in parenting time well in advance.
Also, take a look at each of your children’s schedules for things like sports games, birthday parties, or other pre-planned events which you know they’ll want to attend. You may even want to attend some of these events with your kids, so discuss these dates with your co-parent. Decide which events you may each attend individually and which you may want to attend together.
Consider whether daycare is necessary
With your kids out of school, you might need to consider making arrangements for your kids to attend a daycare program so that your kids are supervised while also having something fun to do each day.
Some local parks provide summer daycare where counselors plan activities for the kids to do from the morning through late afternoon. Also, across the country, the YMCA offers summer programs where kids can spend the day playing with other kids, going on field trips, doing art projects, and much more.
Programs such as these range in price, so research local programs near you for options that work for your family. It’s even possible that some of your kids’ friends will be at these programs, too. Talk to the parents of your children’s friends to see what their plans are for the summer.
Given the COVID-19 pandemic, you or your co-parent may have concerns about sending your kids to daycare where they may be in close contact with all kinds of other people. One alternative to group-style daycare is to hire a full or part-time nanny to watch just your children, or work with the parents of your children's friends to create a childcare "pod" to share the cost as a larger group.
All in all, If some kind of daytime child care is in the cards for your situation, be sure to research into safety precautions, and work to align with your co-parent on the best option to keep both of your households as safe and healthy as possible.
See what your kids think
Finally, don't forget to talk to your kids! See if they have anything in mind that they’d like to do this summer, then try and work those ideas into your summer co-parenting schedule.
This summer might not feel totally normal because of the ongoing pandemic, but compared to last year, there may be more opportunities for children to get out and enjoy more of the same activities they did in summers past.
Get it all in writing
Documenting your summer co-parenting plans in writing will give you and your co-parent something to fall back to in case of any confusion or uncertainty over what the plans for are supposed to be.
Get these plans in a place that you and your co-parent can both access. For example, you may write out your new plans on a document and upload that to your OurFamilyWizard account.
Also, be sure to adjust any calendars you share over the dates on which you've decided to make changes. Be sure to only update those days, as to not change any plans that are already set for later this year.
Summer vacation is a special time for any kid, so work as hard as you can towards giving your kids the best summer vacation to date!
Regarding COVID-19: Information related to the pandemic is evolving rapidly. Please refer to your attorney or other legal practitioners in your area to answer your specific questions related to family law and the COVID-19 crisis.
NOTE: Many state and federal laws use terms like ‘custody’ when referring to arrangements regarding parenting time and decision-making for a child. While this has been the case for many years, these are not the only terms currently used to refer to these topics.
Today, many family law practitioners and even laws within certain states use terms such as ‘parenting arrangements’ or ‘parenting responsibility,’ among others, when referring to matters surrounding legal and physical child custody. You will find these terms as well as custody used on the OurFamilyWizard website.