It’s that time again. With the school year winding down, the kids mark the days off on the calendar, waiting for the blissful freedom of summer break. That’s great for them, but it’s a different feeling entirely for parents. Summer break presents a slew of new challenges when it comes to caring for our kids. And cases of divorce only raise these hurdles.
Summer break comes with all kinds of issues with which to contend. You may have to arrange child care, work around summer activities like camps, and even vacations with both parents. Predictability and routine can be beneficial, and it’s important to know where they’re going to be and when. This goes both for you and the kids.
Divorced or still together, keeping kids busy during summer break is a tall order. It also differs depending on a child’s age, how close the divorced parents live, the custody arrangement, what activities they participate in, if you plan family vacations, and many other factors.
Summer Break For Younger Kids
In general, younger children need more supervision. This is true during the school year and it’s true during summer break. Spending time with both parents is important at this age, but it’s often difficult to arrange during this time because many parents both work.
You may use daycare or babysitters during the school year, and in some cases, during summer break you can extend that care. However, this may be difficult to fit in, not to mention the additional expense. If you have family nearby, they may help pick up some of the slack during the summer months. Summer camps—both overnight and day camps—are options that can be both fun for the kids and offer child care.
Perhaps either you or your ex has a flexible work schedule or can work from home periodically. There are many ways to ensure children get the care they need, but it’s important to handle the arrangements in advance so you don’t have to scramble at the last minute.
Summer Break For Older Kids
Older children tend to be more capable of looking after themselves. How much, of course, depends on how old they are, not to mention how responsible. If they can drive and have a car, that’s a game changer. They can get themselves from place to place, which often simplifies the scheduling process.
How much freedom you give them during summer break, however, depends a great deal on the situation. If you trust them, it’s possible to let them make their own plans and hang out with friends, and allow you a bit of peace of mind. Many teenagers work during the summer months, or work more at jobs that are part-time during the school year.
Even if you have a high level of trust and allow older kids a degree of freedom during summer break, you don’t get to just kick back and relax. It’s important to have a plan and not simply let them loose. Sit down with them and set firm boundaries. Let them know what you expect of them, establish a schedule, maybe have them check in regularly. It’s vital to know what they’re up to, who they’re with, and that they’re staying out of trouble.
Vacations And Summer Break
Summer break is the perfect time to take family vacations. Not having to worry about school means there’s one less scheduling hurdle to clear. Still, it’s important to plan ahead. Not only do you have to account for your schedule and your kid’s, you must arrange everything with your ex.
It’s important to be clear when it comes to scheduling. You don’t want any misunderstandings. Be sure to lay out any trips you or your ex have planned. A quick overnight camping trip on your scheduled visitation weekend is one thing—though it’s still good to let your ex know—but a week-long road trip up the coast is something else.
For things like holidays and summer break, as well as other significant dates, California has a Children’s Holiday Schedule form. When setting up a parenting plan and establishing custody during a divorce, this allows parents to specify which holidays the kids spend with which parent. This also includes significant chunks of time off from school, like summer break. Parents may split the summer, alternate weeks, or work out a plan that best fits the scheduling needs.
There are a number of online tools to help organize a schedule that works for everyone. Once it’s established, do your best to stick to the program. Having specific times and dates down on paper often makes things flow easier. And establishing a routine can help you, your ex, and the kids through what can be a chaotic, stressful time.
We all have our ways of keeping the kids busy when they’re not in school. Feel free to share your favorite summer break activities in the comments below.
If you have questions about divorce or child custody, contact Goldberg Jones at our San Diego office.