Most parents can probably agree that this summer will be unlike any other. Families nationwide will navigate how to manage life as we know it in the mid, and maybe post, COVID-19 world. All of this comes as the school year winds down, states begin to reopen, and traveling plans are executed. This is bound to make the summer months even more challenging for divorced parents and co-parents.
Through my professional career as a divorce mediation and collaborative family law attorney, I am passionate about sharing information on healthy co-parenting techniques. I often tell my clients ahead of the summer months to practice the same manners that they teach their children. I call them the “summer manners” of co-parenting. As a mother and stepmother, I know all too well how hard it can be to coordinate multiple schedules, transitions to homes, and plan for childcare.
Balancing Everyone's Schedule
For my family, my husband and I have five children under two separate parenting agreements. We’ve been balancing co-parenting life for over 10 years. When we started our agreements, my husband’s youngest son was just five years old, and all five of our children were involved in various activities and sports, day camps and overnight camps. The chaotic schedule made coordinating pick-ups, drop-offs, and household transitions tough.
As you can imagine, our parenting plans have changed over the years. Even though it’s easier now that they can drive themselves, they’re also starting to have their own lives and plans of their own. This is especially true for our older children. My husband and I each have biological sons who just graduated high school this year. My daughter and my husband’s oldest son, both in their early 20s, are in college. While they enjoyed their pre-planned summer schedules as kids, they want a little more control and flexibility since they have internships, part-time jobs and other commitments.
Planning Trips with Kids
In terms of summer vacations, our children typically take a family trip with each of their parents every year. So that means my biological children, Ellie and Buchanan, will take a vacation with their father. My husband’s biological children, Kase, Jake, and Walker will take a vacation with their mother. Then, all five of our children get a second trip with my husband and me for our summer vacation.
Importance of Communication
Over the years, we’ve become pros at communicating with our parenting partners about even the most minor changes. As co-parents, we all need to create a positive atmosphere for our parenting partners and our children. For example, I recommend telling your parenting partners who will be with you on a family vacation, give details on where you’re going, share emergency contact information, and discuss any out-of-the ordinary activities. While you should honor your shared parenting agreement, understand that allowing some flexibility is also important. If an agreement seems outdated or irrelevant, get it updated by a family law attorney. This will help you and your parenting partners mind your “summer manners” and make the most out of your time with your children. For me and my husband, at this stage in our children’s teenage and adult lives, we appreciate every moment they want to spend with us.
If you're looking for my top tips on co-parenting this summer, check out this blog about keeping your co-parenting cool.
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Note: This blog is intended to be informational only and shall not be construed as legal advice.