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Co-parenting in the summer holidays

12 Jul

With the summer holiday around he corner here are my tips on how to make it a happy summer for you, your co-parent and especially your kids

search box asking how to co-parent in the summer holidays over a photo of a yellow and white striped towel next to a pool

Juggling child arrangements over the summer holidays are not easy and require a level of planning for any parent. For those who are divorced or separated, it can be even more challenging, particularly if this is your first summer post-split and emotions are still running high.

As a co-parenting coach, I understand the difficulties you may be facing, here are my tips to make the summer holidays a positive experience for you, your co-parent, and most importantly, your children.

Put the kids first: It's crucial to prioritise your children's well-being during the summer holidays. Regardless of the past issues between you and your ex-partner, focus on creating wonderful memories and experiences for your children. They have worked hard at school and have gone through significant changes, so they deserve a joyful and relaxing break. Keep them at the heart of your decisions and let their needs guide your actions.

Start talks early: Don't leave the planning to the last minute, as it will only add unnecessary stress to the negotiations. Begin discussing the summer arrangements well in advance, considering the six weeks that need to be coordinated. Remember, you may also need to involve extended or blended family members, and popular holiday clubs fill up quickly. By initiating early conversations, you'll have ample time to address all the necessary details and avoid last-minute conflicts.

Make a comprehensive plan: Take the time to create a detailed plan that outlines the school holiday dates, required childcare, and any relevant costs. Share this plan with your ex-partner and, when appropriate, with your extended family. By providing a clear overview of the situation, including financial considerations, you can foster understanding and reach an agreement that benefits everyone involved. Additionally, consider spreading the time with your children evenly throughout the summer holidays to ensure both parents have the opportunity for quality bonding. It's also important to plan your own time away from the children to avoid feeling isolated or overwhelmed.

Taking the children abroad: If you have plans to travel with your children to another country or city, make sure to obtain the other parent's consent. It's advisable to have this consent in writing to avoid any misunderstandings. For multiple trips, seek consent for each individual travel plan. Keeping a copy of the written consent and relevant identification documents (such as birth or adoption certificates or divorce certificates) can help smooth the process, especially when crossing borders. Always prioritize obtaining consent, as attempting to take your child without permission may lead to legal consequences.

Involve the kids: As your children grow older, involving them in decision-making can be empowering and beneficial. While certain decisions may require discussions between you and your ex-partner, consider giving your children a voice in age-appropriate matters. Collaborate with your ex-partner to establish appropriate ground rules and expectations for older children, such as leaving them unattended for short periods. Be prepared to adapt and revise arrangements as your children mature. Younger children may require more frequent short visits, while teenagers may prefer spending weekends with friends but still desire regular contact and holidays with the non-resident parent. Take notice of any changes in your child's behaviour or mood, and create a safe space for open conversations to address their feelings.

Be flexible: Flexibility is key to successful co-parenting during the summer holidays. Understand that plans may need to change due to unforeseen circumstances. Before making any bookings or commitments, consult your ex-partner to ensure mutual agreement and avoid conflicts. By being considerate and cooperative, you can make a significant positive impact on your children's experience. Remember, you are no longer partners, but you will always be parents, and your children need you to co-parent effectively. Also, be mindful that your children's school holidays may clash with the schedules of step or half-siblings, requiring further flexibility and understanding.

Be open: Maintaining open communication and sharing important information with the other parent is vital for a successful summer holiday. Share itineraries, contact details, and relevant details about your children's preferences and needs, such as swimming abilities and required sun protection. This openness helps alleviate concerns and ensures a smoother experience for all. Even while on holiday, try to keep in touch with your co-parent through quick phone calls or text messages, as this demonstrates your commitment to cooperation and shared responsibility.

Seek adult support for your feelings: It's natural to experience feelings of resentment or hurt when your child spends time with the other parent, especially in the early stages of co-parenting. However, it's important to process and share these emotions with another adult, not your child. Children are highly perceptive and can sense tension, which can lead to confusion and guilt. Seek support from a trusted friend, family member, or therapist who can offer a listening ear and guidance. During the times your children are with your ex-partner, create a plan for your own self-care, whether it's reconnecting with friends or engaging in activities you enjoy. Remember, it's okay to feel a mix of emotions, and self-care is essential for your well-being.

Contact with the wider family: Whenever possible, encourage ongoing contact between your children and extended family members. Maintaining these relationships provides stability and a connection to their heritage. It can also offer practical help, such as assistance with childcare. Consider these relationships when planning the summer holidays, ensuring that your children have the opportunity to maintain these valuable connections.

Include this in your parenting plan: Incorporate these tips and principles into your parenting plan. A parenting plan serves as a framework to guide your co-parenting journey. It provides stability, consistency, and a reference point for both parents. However, remember that a parenting plan is not set in stone and should evolve as your children grow and their needs change. By having a solid foundation, you can navigate the summer holidays and other important milestones with greater ease and understanding.

Co-parenting is not easy but using these tips I am confident you and your co-parent can create a happy summer for your children that you all get to enjoy. If you need more support get in touch.

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