For many parents, the summer months are ideal for spending quality time with their kids. If work permits, it's often the best time for the family to take a trip. For divorced or separated parents, though, it can sometimes turn out to be a stressful time for both the co-parents and the children. Fortunately, there are steps both adults can take to minimize frustration and conflict and to ensure a great summer for everyone.
1. Plan in advance
Depending on the specifics of the court order, parents might have deadlines for notifying each other of their vacation plans. It's possible to lose priority in the future by not following these deadlines. And even if deadlines for planning are not explicitly in the custody order, it is easier for both parents to plan if they are on the same page. Out of respect, this should also include giving an itinerary to the other parent.
2. Work with your child's other parent
If the trip being planned involves going out of state, the other parent needs to be informed. Failure to notify the other parent can lead to legal action. Fortunately, it has never been easier to communicate through writing. Texting or emailing with specific dates, times, and locations can cut down on the guessing game and stress for both parties.
3. Remember, it's not a competition
By turning vacations into a competition between parents, the stress level for everyone is guaranteed to go up. In these situations, it's important to remember what is the most important - the children. Kids just want to have fun with their parents during the summer. They don't care how much a trip costs or how fancy it is. It's the time with both parents that they value more than anything else.
4. Talk to your kids
Communication between parents is essential to effective vacation planning. However, communication with the children is just as important. After all, it's their summer vacation! It's helpful for them to know that the schedule is something that both parents came up with together. By keeping communication open with the kids too, they'll feel more included and less stressed. And a relaxed child will likely lead to less stressed co-parents.