Summers can be a challenging time for parents who no longer live together. The children are home from school, parents are left finding child care and, sometime most challengingly, planning vacations. When considering how to handle summer visitation with the least amount of stress, keep in mind the importance of communication.
Experts are clear that the keys to making the summer scheduling process a success are communication and good planning. The reality is that when parents stop living together, whether due to divorce, separation, or other circumstances, everyone's schedules must change and “the way things have always been” will have to be altered. Fortunately, children's schedules are usually much more flexible during the summer, allowing more possibilities for the children to have more extended, uninterrupted time with each parent.
So how do you come up with a schedule that works for everyone? Start planning early – the earlier the better. The more time you have in advance to develop a plan, the more time there will be to negotiate and reach a mutually agreeable schedule. Decide how much time each parent would like with the children and then plug in various dates to see if they can work.
The reality is that even with advanced planning, things won't always work out smoothly. If disagreements arise, hopefully you can worth together to keep the situation from getting unnecessarily hostile. One way to do so is to consider rotating which parent has priority during a given year. For instance, in odd-numbered years, the mother may be the one who gets first choice of vacation times, while the father chooses first in even-numbered years. Remain respectful and remember that as much as you want time with your kids, the other parent does too. Your children will always be better off if their parents can work together to find a plan that everyone can live with for summer visitation.