For families with school-aged children, the daily schedule at a child’s school tends to inform every other aspect of life. Childcare arrangements, how parents juggle family with work and even how separated or divorced parents share custody may all depend on the school schedule for the children in the family.
Although the end of the school year can seem like a liberating moment for the children, it can also be a time of destabilization for the family. The current schedule may no longer work at all. Instead of maintaining a predictable routine, the parents may need to adjust to the children being home all day or the children’s oddly-timed summer activity schedule.
Many families do have different summer rules
Sharing custody works differently for every family, and what works in one situation may fall far short of the needs of a different family. Still, quite a few families sharing custody will find that the needs of the children during the summer are different enough to justify a different schedule. Especially if one parent has a demanding or unusual work schedule and therefore cannot spend much time with the children during the school year, having a different arrangement during the summer could give them plenty of time to bond with the children. One parent could have far more time with the children during the summer than during the school year.
If nothing else, the lack of school time could mean a greater need for childcare arrangements if the parents don’t make some adjustments to how they split parenting time. Most families therefore have rules for the school year and separate rules for the summer months regarding how they share parenting time.
The older the children are, the more time they can spend with one parent at a go without that arrangement damaging the bond that they have with their other parent. The adults in the family may need to discuss new household rules for the summer months, such as limits on technology use or socialization when school is out for the season. They may also need to discuss limits on their travel or vacation plans for their children.
Those who already have a schedule and rules for the challenges of summer vacation will be less likely to end up fighting with their co-parent. Co-parenting during the summer and other special times for the children will likely be easier for the family if the adults already have a plan in place for sharing custody gracefully.