Navigating child custody arrangements for the summer can be extremely difficult. In some cases, parents are separated from their children for much longer periods than usual due to scheduled vacations with the other parent or the length of many summer camp programs. If you are spending the bulk of your summer without your children, here are some helpful coping tips to make it through the summer.
Schedule Regular Communication With Your Children
With all the advanced technology available to parents today, there are many ways that parents can remain connected to their children. Schedule regular “check ins” with your children where you agree to speak to them on their cell phones, via Skype or through the iPhone Facetime app. By knowing that you will speak with your child every day or every other day, separation anxiety can be greatly reduced for both you and your child. In addition to technology, hand written letters or postcards can be a great way to connect with your child when they are away for the summer.
Share Important Information About Your Child
Summer is often the time when non-custodial parents spend much more time with their children. Many non-custodial parents have less knowledge about the daily routines of their children who spend the majority of their days at another home. Always make sure to provide important medical information to the other parent, including the contact information for the child’s pediatrician, information about food allergies as well as the name and dosage of any daily medications your child might take.
Prepare Your Child for the Separation
Children can often sense the anxiety of their parents. To the best of your ability, help your child understand that the other parent loves them very much and is looking forward to spending time with them. Acknowledge that you will miss the child and the child will likely miss you too, but try not to place too much emphasis on the how hard the separation might be for both of you. Allowing the children to take comfort items such as a treasured stuffed animal or special blanket to the other parent’s home also can be helpful especially for younger children.
Another way to prepare your children for the summer break away from you is to encourage them to track memories that they can share with you when they return. Providing a camera, small photo album, memory journal or summer collection box can be a great way to help a child share with you what they did when you were not around.
Prepare Yourself for the Separation
Being childless for extended periods of time can be a significant role reversal for some parents. Knowing that your children will be spending a significant time away from you in the summer can provide you with an opportunity to plan some activities that do not involve the children. Many divorced parents use this time reconnecting with old friends, dating or working on home projects for which there is little time while the children are home. Developing new hobbies or returning to an activity that you enjoyed pre-children can help you make the most of the time away from your children this summer. Focusing on self-care during this time can make you feel rejuvenated and refreshed for when the children return to your full time custody.