Without the constraints of school, summer is a great opportunity to spend quality time with the kids. Whatever your regular schedule is, summer without homework and projects gives parents the perfect chance to get goofy, be spontaneous, and reconnect with the children in a much more relaxed way.
If your parenting plan with your ex is such that the time during the school year is something like 70% with one parent and 30% with the other parent or anything greater, summer break can be used for some extra time with the lower time parent.* For the parent who has the bulk of responsibility for the children during the school year (i.e. the 70% parent), summer can be used to give that parent a break – a chance to finish some projects, catch up on work, travel, or just nap.
Step one is to be honest with yourself and your co-parent about what it takes to care for the kids in terms of time, money, and running around. It’s easy to say the primary parent has it better because they get the kids more. While this is true in many ways, it doesn’t necessarily make their task also easy. So, recognizing that they probably need your support in real ways (time and money) can really help shift the dynamic to a place of fairness. Flip side of this is that the primary parent might think that the secondary parent has it easy because they don’t have the kids most of the time. Again, true in many ways and also true that it is might be difficult to live with that distance from the children.
If you can both agree that parenting has its challenges regardless of which end you’re on and that you want to support each other so that the kids have quality time with both parents throughout the year, then you can probably come up with a summer plan that is different from your school year plan.
Things to consider:
- Summer isn’t as long as we remember it from our childhood. Today, school is out approximately eight to ten weeks, which is generally the months of June and July with a couple days or weeks on either end.
- Having the kids back at their primary home one week prior to school starting back is often preferred to gear up for the new year.
- If you both work, where will the kids be during the day? Summer camp is not only expensive but the good ones fill up quickly so plans need to start in the Spring, if not sooner.
- What makes sense financially? Should child support stay the same? Decrease some? Or completely flip to the other parent? There are a couple of factors to considering for this including:
- How much you each earn and thus the ability of the primary parent to maintain basic household expenses if support were to decrease.
- The cost of summer camp, day care, sports camps, etc. and who pays for that.
*Changing or switching the schedule for summer isn’t for everyone. Some parents prefer to keep the schedule the same throughout the year due to their work schedules or age of the kids. And that’s okay, too! Every family has its own unique dynamics.