When most kids think about summer, the word freedom isn’t far away. With no responsibilities to school or homework, children and teens are looking to spend their days doing whatever they want.
But, for co-parents, coordinating the reality of these expectations can be challenging to say the least. How will we manage summer camps, childcare and vacations all while trying to separately foster memories with our children? Here are a few tips to get started.
Consider options for regular child care
Because your child while no longer be at school for the majority of the day, you’ll need to lay out your care options. While doing this, make sure you have your child’s best interests in mind.
If the other parent is able to care for your child while you are working, this is likely the best-case scenario — even if it means your child will spend more time with the other parent than you.
On the other hand, a day program, club and/or sport that appeals to your child’s interests may be a better care option if it expands your child’s knowledge and skills while also allowing them to socialize with their peers. You may also consider education programs, such as instrument or language lessons. Similarly, parents with teens will expose their children to more real-life skills if the teen works a job or volunteers over the summer.
Lay out the options and don’t be afraid to get your child’s opinion. Remember that you can plan special days with your child to make up for any time you may lose if you are not as flexible as the other parents.
For those with younger children, you should also establish a backup babysitter who can care for your child in case summer’s irregular hours create a scheduling conflict for either parent.
Decide on special activities
Once you have a plan for your child’s day-to-day routine, start planning for special activities — there may be a lot of them. Special activities are events that normally wouldn’t happen and need to be planned on a specific date(s), such as:
- Live sports events
- Live music events
- Theatrical productions
- Short-term camps or programs
- County or state fair
Because these activities do not have a flexible timeline, they can be planned well in advance. There may be additional special activities that could require more or less planning in advance, depending on your unique circumstances, such as going swimming, visiting the zoo, or taking a trip to an amusement park.
If you are not very involved in your child’s daily care routine, consider planning more special activities with your child.
Choose flexibility of the logistics
Determining the logistics of who will pick up the kids when and how will be challenging to sort out. Initially, try to get to a firm plan. Next, talk about whether there is a backup plan if something goes wrong. If not, the logistics for that particular part of the plan won’t be very flexible.
This is important to establish to keep your child from regularly missing a reoccurring activity. If neither parent has the flexibility to commit to a plan that is not flexible, it may be for the best to consider an alternative plan.