With spring break just around the corner, children are looking forward to taking over a week off from school and having fun with family and friends. However, school holidays are often a cause of dispute between divorced and separated parents. Although child custody and visitation orders will define how the kids will spend their school breaks or vacations, some orders leave the decision up to the parents. Since there is plenty of room for miscommunication and misunderstandings, establishing a plan ahead of the anticipated holiday can ensure the children have the best time of their lives and both parents avoid conflict. The following are several effective co-parenting tips to help parents determine how the kids spend their vacations:
- Long-term planning – The goal is to make sure both children spend quality time with each parent and have the most fun possible. When it comes to planning fun trips for the children, perhaps both parents can alternate vacations to make scheduling arrangements as fair as possible. Document your plans on the custody calendar for ultimate transparency—and go so far as to share each other’s itinerary every time you or the other parent takes the kids on vacation. There are several apps and calendar tools available for download in your cellphone’s app store.
- Take the children’s changing schedules into account – If you have multiple children currently in elementary school, that may not be the case as they get older. When one of your kids moves on to middle school or high school, that means having to deal with different times for school breaks.
- Take your jobs into account – Each parent’s employment situation is an important factor to consider. One parent may be busy during a specific time of year, which makes sense of the other parent to have full custody for the duration of the break—in exchange for having the kids for an extra week or so during another school holiday. Effective co-parenting is when both parents do their best to be flexible and work with each other’s work schedules.
- Have a back–up plan – Sometimes plans fall through, which means both parents must work during the time they planned on having a vacation with the kids. If both you and the other parent plan on staying home, consider sharing parenting time during the children’s break. Fun ideas for having a “staycation” include visiting local attractions and creating special days with your kids (e.g. kids cooking day, movie and pajama day, or make your home into a hotel).
- Have the schedule approved by family court – To hold each other accountable when if persistent disputes happen, the parents should submit their plan to the judge to make it an official court order.