When you divorced, you and your ex decided it was best if the children lived with you throughout the school year and spent a few months in the summer in your co-parent’s home. It made sense at the time, given both of your work schedules, the great school the kids attend and your ex moving out of the school district.
But now, on the cusp of summer, how do you start to prepare the kids a summer away from you when you’ve been the primary parent for so many months? Both you and the kids might be a bit anxious, especially if this is the first year of the arrangement. Here are some tips to help you get ready.
Start by scheduling some time to have a video chat with your ex to discuss the kids’ routine — their bedtime, their hobbies, their favorite meals and in the case of older kids, limits you have put on video games, social media and cellphone use. Your ex might have a different parenting style, and that’s OK, as long as you agree on the big discipline items.
With that done, it’s time to talk to the kids about the expectations you have for them. Let them know that while you have one set of rules and your co-parent might have another, you both are on the same page. Let them know that just as they respect you and your rules, you expect no less when they are at your ex’s house.
Then, let them voice their fears or concerns. They undoubtedly will be a bit wary about being away from you but let them know you are just a phone call away. Set a daily time to chat. In fact, given today’s technology, you can still read a bedtime story face-to-face. Let them know they can talk to your ex about anything bothering them.
You might be a bit sad, too, about being away from them for most of the summer. Don’t let them see you’re sad, or don’t let them see any anger you might have for your ex. They’ll feed off of your attitude.
Let’s hope this is a great summer. If it fails to meet expectations for kids and parents, it might be time to revisit your child custody arrangements.