10 Ways To Manage Spring Break Schedules With Your Co-Parent
Spring break can easily become a high-conflict situation for separated co-parents who share custody, but it doesn’t have to be with these 10 tips.
Spring is here, which means it’s almost time for the kids to get some time off from school for spring break. While this is normally an ideal time for families to travel and enjoy some quality time together, spring break can easily become a high-conflict situation for separated parents who share custody of their children. However, you don’t need to let your strained relationship with your child’s other parent ruin any plans you may have for the break. Instead, you can use these 10 tips to manage your spring break plans with your co-parent’s help.
10 Double-Check The Specifics
School breaks can be tricky, especially when they change from year to year based on the calendar and other factors. Furthermore, every custody situation is different in terms of what it outlines and what it doesn’t. Therefore, the team at OurFamilyWizard, a top co-parenting app, strongly recommends co-parents double-check all the specifics about the upcoming break before making any plans. This will help everyone stay on the same page and will also give you a clear picture of all the specifics you may need to discuss with your co-parent.
9 Make Plans In Advance
While sometimes last-minute plans work well, this is rarely the case for co-parenting situations. Instead, any type of vacation or changes to the everyday co-parenting schedule requires adequate planning well before the week of spring break. In fact, you may need to figure out logistics weeks or even months in advance so you and your co-parent come to an agreement as to who has the kids ahead of time.
Sometimes the specifics of who gets the child during these breaks are outlined in your parenting plan, and sometimes they are not. Either way, sit down and make a plan as far in advance as you can, and make sure to discuss this plan with your child’s other parent in great detail.
8 Look At Work Schedules
Whether your custody agreement covers spring break, your ability to care for your kids or swap them during the day may depend on each co-parent’s work schedule. For this reason, most experts recommend co-parents compare work schedules and vacation time they each have before making any concrete plans for spring break.
You may find that it makes the most sense to plan the week based on both parents’ work schedules, or you may realize that a day camp or other situation may work best for everyone. Either way, it will help everyone out if you both take a look at your calendars and communicate work schedules before the week of spring break.
7 Communicate In Writing If Possible
In an ideal world, the parenting plan you draw up with your child’s other parent would cover every possible situation and leave little room for disagreement between you. Unfortunately, not every custody agreement clearly defines schedules and travel authorization requirements for school breaks. For this reason, Kevin Mooney, family law attorney and legal and judicial educator at OurFamilyWizard, highly recommends asking for permission in writing before traveling with the children in any co-parenting situation.
Without explicit written consent from your co-parent, you run the risk of them disrupting your travel plans, putting your child in the middle of a very uncomfortable situation.
According to Mooney, “Custody is one of those issues where, when the parameters are unclear or otherwise undefined, it’s much better to ask for permission than forgiveness.”
By asking the other parent ahead of time, though, you mitigate this and set yourself up for success. In nearly all co-parenting situations, over-communicating is the best idea, especially when making travel plans that involve leaving the state or country. This avoids conflict and possible legal entanglements, which nobody wants to deal with during a vacation (or anytime).
6 Think About Transitions
Whether you decide to take the kids on a vacation or simply stay home, chances are you will need to transfer the children between parents at some point during the break. Since many co-parents with school-aged children handle these swaps within the school day, though, you may find yourself in a situation where you need to work out transitions with your co-parent during the week. If you can, talk to them about this in advance, so everyone is on the same page during the week of the break.
5 Don’t Ignore Extended Family
Sometimes grandparents and other family members like to make plans with your kids during school breaks, and those plans may not always be communicated clearly to everyone. Sometimes these extra folks can help everyone manage schedules during the week, and other times they can throw wrenches into plans after you work them out. Therefore, you should always double-check with your own extended family and ask your co-parent to do the same as you make plans for the break. This will simply help everyone and keep things calm.
4 Digitally Document Your Plan
Once you finalize any plans for your child’s spring break, make sure you document them in a way that both parents have access to them. While you can do this in several ways, co-parenting apps like OurFamilyWizard make it easier than ever. Tools like this allow you to modify your normal custody schedule for the specific days of the break without messing up your regularly established calendar schedule.
Using an app like OurFamilyWizard also makes it easy for everyone involved to make plans in advance and manage a shared family schedule so both parents know who has the kids when. Furthermore, OurFamilyWizard maintains a tamper-proof digital record of your parenting schedule, so you have a single source of truth should a debate ever arise.
3 Keep The Communication Lines Open
Even after your plan is finalized, you may find there are still small details or roadblocks you need to discuss with your co-parent. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to keep those lines of communication open as spring break approaches. Most of the time, over-communicating is better than under communicating, so keep that in mind when sharing information about your travel plans or other details dealing with the break.
2 Put Your Kids First
While it’s easy to get wrapped up in your own emotions about your child’s other parent, disagreements between co-parents rarely benefit the children. So, instead of fighting overtime or other small things, try to put your kid first as much as possible during this time. This may mean sacrificing some of your own parenting time because their other parent wants to take them to the beach, or it may require you to shift your own vacation by a day or two — it really just depends. However, putting your kids first will ultimately benefit them, and that’s worth any small sacrifices or discomfort you have to endure.
1 Have A Backup Plan
Unfortunately, sometimes even the best laid-out plans fall through. This makes spring break tricky for everyone, but it can be especially problematic for co-parents who don’t always have the best relationship. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to plan for the worst-case scenario when you’re talking about plans in the beginning, so everyone has a say in any backup plans that may need to happen due to canceled flights, last-minute emergencies, or other issues.
Spring break can be a fun time for you and your children, even if you have to share your time with your co-parent. Just be sure to communicate in advance and put your kids first and everything else will work itself out.