The summer break is nearly here, children will be off school and out of routine for almost two months. While children will look forward to the extended time off school, for separated parents summer can be difficult.
Here are five tips to help you plan for the summer break.
- Plan early
Now is the time to start planning ahead for the summer break. You need to think about how your children’s time will be shared between you and their other parent, consider holidays and summer activities. Talk about your plans with the other parent, it is best to begin the conversation in person or over the phone, as text messages can be open to misinterpretation. Avoid making demands and be open to their suggestions. Keep the conversation structured and have it when children are not present.
- Be open to compromise
Explore what compromises you both can make. You both need to be prepared to give as well as take. You children will want to spend time with you both over the summer period, and consider other family members too. Be flexible and try to put yourself in each other’s position.
- Agree practical arrangements
Who will be picking up the children, from where and at what time? If one of you is taking the children away on holiday, make sure that you share the travel arrangements and details with the other parent. Discuss what happens with summer schemes and activities, how will these be funded?
- Discuss contact arrangements
When the children are with one parent make sure you agree how they will keep in contact with the other parent. Will this be by phone call or facetime? How regularly will calls occur and who will make the call. Consider also how you will keep in contact with the other parent, where possible keep an open line of communication even if it is just to keep them up to date about the children and any issues or concerns that should be communicated.
- Focus on your children’s best interests
Lastly but most importantly, even if there is tension between you and the other parent, focus on the needs of your children. Reassure them that they will be spending time with you both over the summer period.
If you are struggling with communication and arranging contact, consider if there is time for you to access family mediation. A family mediator can assist you both to find an agreed way forward. Mediators are impartial facilitators who empower you to make decisions that keep your children’s needs at the centre.