Everyone looks forward to a summer vacation. It is a time to take a break, no homework to do or extra curricular activities to attend for the kids. No commuting, carpools or stressful deadlines for parents. A time to relax, enjoy the warm weather and have some fun. But, without proper planning, it can wreak havoc with your parenting plan.
When developing your parenting plan, it is important to coordinate your children’s summer vacations. The length of time for each vacation is dependent on the children’s age, the school-year parenting plan, geography and availability of each parent. These variables may change over time. Summer is a period when children can spend extended time, whether it is a week, two weeks or even a month, with one parent. Weeks do not have to be consecutive.
The parenting plan should specify a time to start planning summer vacations-- January of that year is a good point to begin the discussion with the other parent. The parenting plan should also include who gets first choice of vacation time that first year, and parents should alternate this role in following years. Unless parents agree, a parent may not supersede vacation time over a holiday (July 4, Labor Day, birthdays) that is parenting time for the other parent. The vacationing parent needs to provide all contact and itinerary information to the other parent. Parents need to consider their own work schedule and any camp the children will attend.
Vacation time does not mandate that you must go away. It is an occasion for the children to enjoy extensive time with a parent. What you do with that time is up to you. Parents should avoid one-upping the other parent by trying to wow your children with an even more amazing vacation than the one offered by the other parent. If you are keeping score then everyone loses, including your children. Keep in mind your own time allotment, budget and energy level. Vacations can be a lot of work when you are a single parent.
With good, early communication and lots of preparation your children can have a fun-filled summer with each parent. Everyone will know the plan and be able to enjoy the moment and look forward to what is to come.