Summer holidays are difficult to navigate for married parents, let alone co-parents. You still have work, but your children suddenly have all this free time that they expect to be filled with entertaining activities.
On top of that, in addition to planning the child’s vacation, you have to coordinate all that time with your co-parent, and finally, you have your own summer vacation that you need to plan out.
I frequently get asked for help with planning out the summer holidays by co-parents, so I wanted to share with you these 5 great tips to ensure you successfully navigate the summer holidays, even if this isn’t your first year planning them as co-parents.
1. Create a summer co-parenting plan
The first thing to note is that your summer co-parenting plan will differ from the usual, school-year co-parenting plan. Moreover, it will differ even from last year’s summer plan as your children mature, and their interests change, as well as the co-parents’ situation.
It's always recommended that you create a plan but remain flexible. Some things will change, and some events will pop up. There may even be events such as birthdays or graduations which both co-parents should attend, so talk about these. If you think you can’t get along in these settings, then it’s best to avoid attending them together. Your child will be happier when there aren’t unnecessary fights.
Decide on vacation time. Will both co-parents take the children away at some point? Are you taking them on vacations in alternating years? In case they spend winter months with one co-parent, then let them spend the summer with the other co-parent. It’s in your interest that they have a healthy relationship with both parents.
Come up with a plan. Children flourish when they have structure.
Finally, ensure that you share your plans with the other co-parent as soon as possible, even early in the year. By doing this, the other co-parent will have the time to plan for themselves, as well as ensure that there aren’t any scheduling clashes or conflicts.
2. Agree on spending expectations, share the costs
Summer holidays can get on the expensive side: vacations, summer camps, outings with friends, etc., which is why it is of crucial importance that the co-parents discuss spending expectations. It’s your job to provide your child with the best possible summer vacation and sharing costs will enable you to do that.
You’re co-parenting so it’s perfectly normal to share costs to ensure your child gets to experience the fun summer holiday stuff with their friends. Don’t ever feel ashamed to talk to your co-parent about money.
3. Consult your kids
Don’t just plan the summer holidays without consulting your kids. Ask them what they’d like to do, how they’d like to spend their summer.
You may be longing for a tropical vacation, but they may prefer visiting a summer camp with their friends. And no one wants a pouting kid on a tropical vacation.
Furthermore, by letting them express their wishes, you’re showing them that you trust them to make their own decisions, and that their feelings and opinions are being valued by their parents. That alone will help bring your relationship to new levels.
4. Do not compete with your co-parent
One of the co-parents makes more money than the other – and that’s not a bad thing.
The important thing here is to try not to compete as to who has planned out a better or fancier holiday with the children. This would be counterproductive and it’s likely that it would only damage your relationship while instilling guilt in your children.
It's not the lavishness that wins the love of your child, it’s giving them love, attention, trust and support.
5. Stay understanding, stay flexible
Your kids will be changing their routine in the summer which could stress them out.
If they usually spend their time with the other co-parent, don’t be surprised if they start to miss them or feel sad at times. It’s perfectly normal and it doesn’t mean that they don’t love you, it’s just the routine that they’re missing.
Don’t take this personally but stay understanding and comfort them.
Or try to prevent this altogether by preparing your child beforehand. Let them know that they will be spending some time away from the other co-parent, that they might miss them but that they will reunite soon. Remind them that they will be going on vacation with you, and that you love them, too. The other co-parent should do this, too.
Just remember to focus on your child’s feelings, and not your own. The fact that you’ll be sad may just stress them out even more.
Children remember their summers their whole lives, it’s when the best memories are made – and it’s up to you and your co-parent to effectively communicate and put in the effort needed to provide a fun, conflict-free summer for your children.
It’s all about careful planning with both the other co-parent and the child. Use a shared calendar to have a clear overview of the summer, keep each other in the loop and don’t be late with shared payments.
We recommend that you try FamiliPay, our co-parenting app with one of the easiest-to-manage calendars out there, as well as a shared payment center to ensure you stay on top of it all during the whole year.
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