A Co-Parent's Guide to Crafting a Successful Summer Schedule

By Mat Wirove, Senior Family Lawyer, Mediator, and Arbitrator

Summer holidays bring a unique set of challenges for separated couples, especially when it comes to co-parenting. While the break offers an excellent opportunity for children to enjoy extended quality time with both parents, it requires careful planning and effective communication to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience for everyone involved. In this blog, we will explore the key elements of crafting parenting plans for separated couples during the summer holidays.

Open Communication

The foundation of any successful parenting plan lies in open and transparent communication between the separated parents. As summer approaches, initiate a conversation with your co-parent to discuss the upcoming holidays. Address concerns and share your expectations. Establishing a positive and cooperative communication channel sets the stage for a successful co-parenting experience during the summer break.

Flexibility and Compromise

Flexibility is key when creating a parenting plan for the summer holidays. Both parents may have specific activities or trips planned, and it's essential to be open to compromise. Consider each other's preferences, work schedules, and the children's interests. A flexible approach allows for adjustments that accommodate everyone's needs and ensures a more harmonious co-parenting dynamic.

Create a Clear Schedule

Create a detailed and clear schedule for the summer holidays that includes the specific dates each parent will have custody and any planned vacations or special events. Be mindful of transitions from one parents’ home to the next and provide ample time for the children to adjust. A well-organized schedule minimizes confusion, reduces stress for both parents and children, and fosters a sense of stability.

Be Consistent with Routines and Rules

Maintaining consistent rules and routines between both households helps children feel secure and facilitates a smoother transition between homes. While the parent who is caring for the child is generally permitted to make day-to-day decisions, there’s value in parents discussing and agreeing on key aspects, like:

  • The child’s bedtime routine.
  • Restrictions or rules regarding screen time.
  • Meal or dietary guidelines (e.g., no sugar after 7 pm).

This collaborative approach supports children’s stability and well-being and can serve to minimize potential conflicts between the parents.

Shared Expenses and Responsibilities

Financial matters are often a source of tension between separated parents, but it is prudent to discuss and try to agree on a fair way to manage any shared expenses. This might include camps, sports, or educational programs. That said, Section 7 of the Federal Child Support Guidelines does provide guidance on what is considered “fair” for these types of expenses to ensure both parents contribute equitably to their children's well-being and enrichment. For more information on Section 7 expenses and how it applies, check out our blog on Child Support Expenses.

Focus on the Children's Best Interests

When creating a parenting plan for the summer holidays, always prioritize the best interests of the children. Consider their preferences, developmental needs, and any specific requests they may have. A child-centred approach fosters a positive co-parenting environment and helps create lasting memories for the children during the summer break. Keep in mind your children won’t remember any offset of hours or nights they spent with one parent over the other, neither will you as parents, but they will remember the tension and any conflict between you.

Utilize Technology

In today's digital age, technology can be a valuable tool for separated parents, allowing you to streamline communication, reduce misunderstandings, and act as a convenient way to coordinate parenting responsibilities. Utilize shared calendars, messaging apps, or co-parenting platforms (like Our Family Wizard or CoParentor) to keep each other informed about important dates, events, or schedule changes.

Plan Special Activities

Collaboratively plan special activities for the children during the summer holidays with each parent. Whether it's a family vacation, a day at the beach, or a weekend camping trip, creating positive and memorable experiences can strengthen the parent-child bond. Coordinate with your co-parent to ensure both parents get the opportunity to participate in these special moments.

Be Mindful of Transition Times

Transition times between households can be emotionally challenging for children. Be mindful of these moments and work together with your co-parent to make them as smooth as possible. Encourage open communication between the children and reassure them about the love and support they receive from both parents.

Seek Professional Guidance (if needed)

If disagreements arise or if you encounter challenges in creating a parenting plan, consider seeking professional guidance. Mediation, parenting coordination, or co-parenting counseling offers a neutral and supportive setting to address concerns and find solutions that serve the best interests of both parents and children. Professional assistance can be instrumental in fostering a cooperative co-parenting relationship.

Tailored Support for Summer Parenting Plans

For those who are specifically looking for support with summer parenting plans, Crossroads Law offers a targeted solution: Expedited Summer Parenting Mediation and Arbitration Services.

At a flat rate of $1,500 + applicable GST/PST, we deliver tailored solutions aimed at resolving your summer parenting disputes promptly and effectively. This service is specifically designed to help parents reach amicable agreements efficiently during busy summer months. In addition to our specialized summer services, we continue to offer our standard mediation and arbitration services to support families year-round. Visit us online for more information and to book your free 30-minute consultation today.

Explore our resources and learn more about how we can assist you in navigating the complexities of summer parenting. Visit our website for additional information and to schedule your complimentary 30-minute consultation today.

For British Columbia Residents - BC Expedited Summer Parenting Mediation Services

For Alberta Residents - AB Expedited Summer Parenting Mediation Services

Crafting effective parenting plans for separated couples during the summer requires a commitment to open communication and a focus on the well-being of the children. By prioritizing flexibility, consistency, and shared responsibilities, parents can foster a positive co-parenting environment. This approach enables children to enjoy a fulfilling summer break, spending quality time with both parents. Remember, the ultimate goal is to provide a supportive and loving atmosphere that nurtures your children’s growth and happiness. This allows them to concentrate on what truly matters—enjoying a wonderful summer holiday!

The information contained in this blog is not legal advice and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject. The information provided in this blog is for informational purposes only.