Two of the biggest summer issues for separated parents are:
1. Who’s going to pay for it?
2. How are we going to schedule it?
If you are struggling with either or both of these issues, keep the following tips in mind.
• Make sure you are doing the talking
When tensions are high, it can be tempting to avoid talking with the other parent and relay information through the children. Sharing information between households is a burden children shouldn’t have to bear.
When summer events come up, talk with the other parent. Make sure YOU are the one delivering news about trips you may be taking, how much special activities will cost and scheduling needs. While you may not feel it’s your responsibility to keep your ex in the loop, it’s best for kids when both parents can be supportive of their activities and share in the excitement.
• Don’t ambush the other parent
Nobody likes a surprise attack. When making plans, don’t set the other parent up to be the “fall guy.” For example, “I would really love for you to go to the Boy Scouts camping trip this summer. But it’s really up to your Mom to say yes. You can’t do it unless she pays her part.”
Remember there are special things in a child’s life that aren’t always covered by child support.
Instead, say, “The Boy Scouts camping trip would be lots of fun but before we can make plans, I need to talk with Mom to see if we can work out the details.”
• Know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em
Be willing to cut your losses and take a higher road. When you can’t resolve an issue or the other parent won’t participate, make an executive decision.
If you make a decision to foot the bill or juggle your schedule, don’t make your kids pay the price. While summer camp may be a wonderful experience for Suzy, it probably won’t be wonderful for very long if Suzy has to listen to what a bum Dad is for not paying half.
Bottom line; What’s more important: your need to be justified or right…or your children’s needs?
• Be a family, not an entertainment committee
Don’t guilt yourself for not having enough time with kids. Avoid falling into the trap of packing every moment together with fun filled, exciting activities. This can be a quick ticket to overwhelmed and stressed out kids.
Maintain a sense of family by involving your children in low maintenance activities such as taking evening walks, going to the park, reading a book together or playing a family game.
What kids crave most is your undivided attention.
Whether this is your first summer or the fifth, shifting into summer is tough for lots of families. Putting these key reminders in place will not only pave the way to a smooth summer it will also help you stay focused on what matters most… your kids!