3 Things To Consider With Summer Vacation and Parenting Schedules
May 23, 2018
BY: Amanda Yu
For school-aged children, summer vacation is the most important time of the year. The weather is warm, school is out, and everyone is happy! Or are they?
Summer vacation parenting time schedules will vary depending on the schedules of the parents and the children. Some families choose to extend the regular schedule from the school year, especially if the children are at day camp on weekdays and abide by a relatively similar schedule as when they are in school. Other families choose to enroll the children in sleepaway camps where they are gone for most or all of the summer. Still other families change the summer parenting time schedule entirely to accommodate lengthy vacations.
Here are 3 things to consider when crafting your summer parenting time schedule:
1. Parents’ Work Schedule
Do you work the same hours year-round? Some parents hold jobs in fields where summer schedules are very different than those during the school year.
For example, a teacher would have a substantially similar schedule to his or her children and may be able to exercise more parenting time in the summer. Someone who works in landscaping may be busier in the summer than in the colder months.
Some job hours do not vary during the year at all. If your work schedules varies, use these differences to your advantage. If you are able to exercise more parenting time during certain points in the year, propose that the parenting time schedule reflect that ability and willingness. Perhaps propose that, instead of utilizing work-related childcare when only one parent is working, the right of first refusal should be extended so that the non-working parent will have the option of spending his or her extra free time with the children.
2. The Children’s Activities
Do the children take summer classes or work part time during the summer? What about seasonal activities such as athletic programs or lessons?
When children are young, perhaps the only item on their agendas are riding bikes or hanging out at the community pool. As children get older, their summer schedules change as they may engage in more structured activities, and, as they approach college-age, may be focused on bulking up their resumes to get into the best programs.
Ultimately, the parenting time schedule should be focused on what is best for the children and what is feasible for the parents.
If the children are solidly packed with activities, they should be afforded every opportunity to continue to participate with their parents’ support.
If your children attend sleepaway camp or any other long-term overnight activity, make sure that you and your ex-spouse work out parenting time before and after that activity as early as possible (especially if it involves significant travel to pick up and drop off).
If your children partake in summer travel athletics, arrange who will be taking the children to their games or competitions. If your children do not have any structured summer activities, you can try to arrange for shorter, fun day activities for them to look forward to during your parenting time.
Just because you are entitled to travel time during the summer pursuant to your divorce agreement does not mean you have to take a trip. A staycation with the kids might be more your speed. Don’t feel pressured to take an extravagant vacation if it isn’t in the budget this year. Just because you do not travel does not mean you can’t take a week off from work to spend solely with the children on day trips or a long weekend!
If you decide to travel and your divorce agreement does not specify what information needs to be exchanged prior to travel, always remember what you would want your former spouse to provide to you if the situation were reversed. If traveling by aircraft (or bus, or train, etc.), provide the dates and times of scheduled departure and arrival as well as the specific trip information. If driving, provide your estimated date and time of departure, and perhaps provide periodic check-ins if the trip is supposed to last for more than one date. If you are staying at a hotel or rental, provide the address, room number, and any other relevant contact information for emergency purposes. If you are staying with friends or family and the host is uncomfortable with this exchange of information, advise your former spouse of the conflict, but still endeavor to provide as much information as you can.
Any parent would want to know that his or her children are safe and, in the event of an emergency, are reachable. Strive to give the same courtesies to your former spouse as you would want him or her to give to you.
Utilizing summer parenting time is an opportunity for both parents to spend more quality time with their children. Always remember that the children’s best interests come first and should never take a back seat to any animosity or drama between the parents. Ultimately, the main goal of both parents should be to make sure the children have an enjoyable summer experience.