If you and your soon-to-be ex are in the process of drawing up your child custody and visitation agreement, it’s important to include a section that addresses how your children will divide their time during the summer. You’ll need to address things like whether one or both parents will have longer stretches of custody than usual, who will care for the kids during the day and whether there are restrictions on where either parent can take the kids on vacation.
If you already have a plan in place, that’s great. It’s essential to remember, however, that summer is a time of flexibility. It’s typically best when parents can embrace some flexibility, within reason, when circumstances arise that make a change to the schedule best for the kids. For example, maybe a favorite uncle on the other side of the family is coming into town during “your” week with the kids. Do you really want to deny them that time with someone they love?
Summer can throw everyone’s schedule off-kilter, even in families where the parents are together. For kids of divorce, getting used to a summer schedule of dividing their time between homes right after they’ve had to adjust to the divorce can be difficult. That’s why it’s important to keep as many things the same as possible.
If your kids are going to be spending more time with you than they usually do, it’s helpful for them to stay in touch not just with their other parent but with friends and other family members they’re used to being with every day. Even if they’re some distance away, let your kids stay connected through text, Skype, social media and other means of communication.
It’s typically best for kids when parents have similar rules and expectations across households. This is true for summer as well. You may want to agree on a new, later bedtime and perhaps on additional chores that your kids are expected to do now that they don’t have homework for awhile.
If you didn’t put a summer custody schedule in place when you divorced, or if you find that the one you have needs some modifications or additional detail, talk with your family law attorney.