Tips that help co-parents get through the summer months

Summer challenges divorced parents. School ends, that structure disappears, and the children suddenly need a lot more attention than they did before.

This is hard for married parents, but those who got divorced have a lot of added complications to deal with since both parents have to stay involved. It is easier to coast through the school months without talking to one another that often, but parents cannot do that during the summer.

The summer is also a period full of potential disagreements and arguments. Both parents have their own ideas of how they want to spend the Fourth of July with the children. Both parents schedule out-of-state vacations that accidentally overlap. Both parents have great memories of being kids during the summer, they want to make those same memories with their own children, but they keep getting in each other's way.

To make the summer months go well, keep these tips in mind:

1. Talk with the children, not just your ex

Find out what the kids want. Their input could prove very important. Obviously, as a parent, you have the final say. But that does not mean it's wise to plan around them as if they do not exist. The kids also have hopes and dreams about what their summer vacation will be like. Find out what expectations they have as you plan.

2. Make your parental plans in advance

Your old custody schedule may not work anymore. You do not have teachers watching the children during the work day. If things need to change, you and your ex must talk about it in advance -- preferably before the school year ends. You need to get ready for this shift so you can take it in stride.

Planning in advance also helps you and your ex keep from making conflicting plans. As noted above, what if you both plan a road trip that accidentally overlaps? That's not something you want to find out when you show up to pick up the kids and discover that they won't get back for two days.

3. Talk about outside options

Maybe you want to hire a babysitter. Maybe you want to send the kids to camp for a week. Consider outside options to help you watch the children.

4. Stay flexible

Flexibility is a must. Summer feels carefree to the children, but it's hectic and stressful to you. Remember that your ex feels the same way. Flexibility can take the edge off. Work together to set up the best possible schedule for the kids, even if that means making a few compromises.

Your rights

As you work through this process, make sure that you keep your parental rights in mind. Do not let your ex violate these rights, and do not accidentally violate his or hers. Know exactly where you both stand. It makes everything easier.

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