You may be one of many California parents who look forward to the end of the school year. Summer break means you no longer have to hustle your kids through a stressful morning getting them off to the bus or fight with them in the evening to complete their homework and study for tests. Even if you still have activities planned for your children, there is something less anxious about the summer months.
Of course, that may not be the case this year. If you are recently divorced, the upcoming summer months may already be bringing on frustration and anxiety. While your parenting schedule with your ex may work nicely during the school year, there are many unique considerations to make when summer rolls around, and some of them you cannot predict.
It is easy for newly divorced parents to fall into the trap of competing with each other for time with the kids over the summer break. You may have plans, perhaps even reservations, to take the kids on a vacation during the week when your family typically went away before the divorce. However, your ex may have the same idea. Unless you coordinate your schedules and resolve to stay flexible, your summer – and your kids' summer – may end up more like a battle than a vacation.
Child advocates recommend the following actions for keeping your summer parenting time sane and as low-stress as possible:
- Meeting with your ex as early as possible before the break to work out the details of your summer schedule
- Placing the needs and wellbeing of the children above your own desire for control
- Appreciating your ex-spouse's efforts to provide an enjoyable summer for the kids
- Including your children, if appropriate, when scheduling summer plans
- Realizing that your children may intuit when you are being inflexible or creating unnecessary strife with your ex
- Remembering that any positive time the kids spend with their parent will benefit them, even if the parent is not always you
While you may have every intention of working with your ex so your children can have an enjoyable break from school, your ex-spouse may not be so cooperative. You may hope to work it out together, but there are times when you may need help. If your spouse refuses to honor the stipulations in your court-ordered custody plan or you feel your ex's summer plans will place the children in danger, you will certainly want to reach out for legal advice.