The best gift divorcing parents can give to themselves and their children is a well thought out detailed parenting plan. Why? Because it avoids a lot of unnecessary debate and stress down the road. Of course, the best time to negotiate and write this plan is when you first divorce or separate, but it is never too late.
A Detailed Parenting Plan Reduces Conflict Over Summer Vacation Plans
Good, comprehensive parenting plans cover money, schedules, education, health, sports and much more. A comprehensive parenting plan should also have detailed agreements regarding summer vacations. The nice thing about a plan is that if made in advance of the event, it will address how to deal with conflict before it actually happens – which can prevent conflict from happening in the first place. Both parents will have a roadmap for how to deal with parenting issues and scheduling well in advance of any event. While some may feel that a comprehensive parenting plan is too restrictive, the opposite is true: the more detailed the plan, the more freedom for each parent. Each parent is afforded the ability to plan and schedule for the children and themselves, well in advance.
And so when – not if – disagreements arise, the plan has set out in advance and can serve to keep parents on track with positive co-parenting. The plan becomes invaluable as it sets out how to handle the issues well in advance of the event materializing.
Parenting Plans: Detailed Agreements Regarding Summer Vacation Time
Plans around vacation should include agreements in regards to:
- Duration of time to take children away: two weeks works for younger families and up to four weeks for other children (i.e., one parent gets the children in July and other in August for example)
- When parents need to put forth to the other parent when they would like the children for the following summer. Usually, the earlier the better, i.e., in January, ask for specific dates for the following summer so that the parties can book time off work.
- Switch off – one parent picks first one year and the other parent the following year and then switch off each year thereafter so fair year to year.
- Out of state travel. R You cannot withhold reasonable permission, but details of vacationing spots and time schedules need to be shared.
- Who will keep the children’s passports? Decide in advance.
- Telephone access should be set out in advance. Usually, the parent having the children should be responsible for facilitating phone access and ensuring the stay at home parent gets to talk to the children every second day.
- Rules for safety, risky sports and activities should be set out in advance. This is not about control as much as about common sense safety measures and awarding the stay at home parent freedom from stress around these kinds of issues.
- A good plan sets out what camps the children will attend and ensures that parents time is scheduled around them so that both time in camp and with parents is enjoyed during the summer months
- While often a touchy subject, it is important to discuss when it is appropriate to include new partners in vacation time
- When using a calendar rotation – either one week on or off or every second weekend – do not change the rotation schedule for holidays. Rather, keep to the set rotation schedule and fit holidays in, even if it means a longer duration with one parent. This will ensure that year to year, each parent is afforded the same number of long weekends as well as family holidays.
Then let go and let live.
Enjoy your children and cherish the moments you spend with them. Empower them by empowering yourself.
Karen Stewart, BSc. (M.B.A., RHU, CDFA, R.F.M.) is the president, CEO, and founder of Fairway Divorce Solutions. She is an entrepreneur, leading divorce expert, and proud single mother of three. Her book, Clean Break: How to Divorce with Dignity and Move on with Your Life, is a first-hand glimpse into the traditional system of divorce; it is available at www.amazon.ca.
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