Children with divorced parents are just like other kids - they want a summer vacation that involves travel, friends and plenty of down time. But complicated child custody and living situations can make achieving this a challenge. Some states require former spouses to plan decision-making for special scheduling issues in divorce agreements. Even if the details aren't set in stone, with a little bit of thoughtfulness and planning, divorced parents can help their kids experience a great summer.
The key is to plan ahead and prioritize the child's best interests. Parenting schedules and work can make summer plans hard to nail down. Parents should talk with ex-spouses and current significant others early in the process to minimize hiccups. Involving kids in the process will give them something to look forward to.
Some parents are tempted to stage big events and micromanage each minute. There's no need to splurge; kids also love little things like going to the movies. It's important to remember that children and teenagers love unstructured time too, especially in the summer. Planning should also involve setting aside time for them to hang out with friends, explore the neighborhood, and just watch TV. Parents who have to work during the day may consider enrolling their children in a camp or class of their choosing. Parenting time may be non-negotiable, but a kid will always appreciate space to explore his or her interests.
Planning one's own work and recreation in advance will make it easier to meet children's schedules for the truly important things. Parents can maximize quality family time by taking care of job duties, housework and visits with friends during noncustodial hours or planning these around the family schedule. The child can then look forward to an uninterrupted dinner at the restaurant or trip to the beach. Planning is even more important if one has other children. These parents should communicate early and often with the other children and their parents to make seamless summer plans.
Sometimes, kids wants to bring friends or half-siblings along for vacation or just to visit. They may feel more comfortable or simply want someone their age around. Welcoming a child's friend can make visits more enjoyable.
Parents with custody whose children visit exes for the summer can help with transportation for children and their friends. While the other parent has custody, it's important not to smother the child with excessive rules or constant communication. Former spouses may want to consider planning summer events and regular phone or Skype calls in advance. Similarly, a parent who has a child for the summer can make it convenient for the ex-spouse and child to stay in touch. Both parents and the child will be grateful for the chance to develop and maintain healthy relationships.