For some of you, summer holidays is just around the corner. For others, you're already there!
Summer is one of my favourite times of the year. That being said, with summer holidays comes changes in the routine & changes in the schedule - and for blended families trying to co-parent, this can sometimes cause some extra complications.
- Pick up and drop-off may look a little different
- Holiday schedules may interfere with regular co-parenting schedules
- Kids have more spare time, which often means more freedom and time laying around the house
For many stepmoms, summer also means more time with their stepkids - For me, being at home, I am with the kids more than either of their parents during the summer.
So today I thought I'd share some of my strategies for successful co-parenting/blended family life during the summer holidays... because ideally things run as smoothly or better than do in the school year.
And hey, because I know some of you are reading this and saying, "ummm Jamie things never run smoothly" just know there is no time like the present to make some change (even if it's just a little step in the right direction)
Even of you're already into summer holidays, these 6 steps are sure set you up for a successful (or more successful) summer break.
1. GET EVERYTHING IN YOUR SCHEDULE
During the school year I am so organized with our schedule. All games, appointments, extra-curriculars are in the agenda. But come summer, for some reason I slack off. I don't know about you, but if I don't make an effort to stay on top of things, some weeks during the summer vacation, I barely know what day it is!
Here's what you need to do:
Sit down and make sure that:
- Schedules are synced.
- Pick-up/drop off is arranged.
- Responsibilities for kids are hammered out in detail - and when I say in detail I mean DOWN TO THE LAST DETAIL
Remember things are a bit different than they were during the school year, so it's worth revisiting everything to make sure that everyone is on the same page!
2. HOLD A FAMILY MEETING
Scratch that. I don't really like the term "family meeting", let's change that to CHECK-IN. Hold a "family check-in'.
Check in with the kids and chat about their plans for the summer, and your expectations of them during the holidays. My advice is to keep it casual.
- "Hey so let's talk about Fortnight - what do you think is a reasonable time limit each day?" (by the way, I despise that game)
- "What are your plans during the day in the summer? Do you want to do any extra activities?"
- "With work and our holidays, we have a lot on the go. What do you think you could help out with around the house?"
- What do you think is a reasonable bedtime?"
Kid's like to be heard. They like to feel like they have a say. From my experience, these conversations are received way better than coming at them with a chore chart.
3. COMMUNICATE THE HOLIDAY PLAN AND SCHEDULE WITH OTHER PARENT
While I absolutely recognize that this isn't possible for every co-parenting dynamic, if it is possible I think it's a really great idea to share your holiday plans and schedules with the other parent.
A. It keeps them in the loop about what's going on wth their kids
B. It helps them schedule their own activities as well
Again, this isn't always possible, but when it is, it's a great idea.
4. GIVE THE KIDS A CALENDAR
Whether it be on their iPad, phone or on an old fashioned calendar on the fridge, map out the summer schedule for the kids so that they know when and where they're going to be.
Again, schedules are different in the summer. Kids thrive off of consistency and predicability.
5. GET ON THE SAME PAGE WITH OTHER PARENT ABOUT RULES & EXPECTATIONS AT HOUSE
Again, not always possible but when you can do this, it's really best for the kids.
Keeping expectations similar at both houses not only instills good habits in the kids, it also helps wtih the transition between houses.
While this isn't my most popular piece of advice when talking to parents, I always recommend that if you're on total opposite sides of parenting spectrum with the other parent, consider being more flexible and open to compromise with rules and expectation.
Yes, some things will be non-negotiable, but parents often get caught up on the little things rules and expectations that may not matter down the road. This is a situation where I personally believe that it's best to pick your battles.
6. REMEMBER THEY ARE KIDS, AND IT'S SUMMER
Do you get annoyed that the teenagers are stay up too late, and sleeping in until 11:30? ... ask yourself, did you (or would you have) done that as a kid?
Are there extra dishes in the sink? A forgotten milkshake glass on the coffee table? Popcicle sticks on the ground? Before you get on them, think back.... Did you ever do that as a kid? Tailor your reaction accordingly.
Yes, kids absolutely need structure, routine and guidance but I think its' also important for us parents to remember that kids will be kids... and kids deserve to be kids!
Don't sweat the small stuff (and for the record, I didn't always have that attitude... it's been (and still is) a work in progress!)