The end of the school year means more free time to plan summer camps, vacations, and other fun activities. For divorced parents, summer also means the potential for a host of new co-parenting disputes. Parents may disagree about how much time each should spend with the children, when and where the children can travel, and how the kids should spend their time away from school. Consider these summer co-parenting tips to make summer break happy and fun for everyone.

Plan Vacations Early

When it comes to vacations, the sooner you tell your ex-spouse about your plans, the better. Surprises are not ideal when it comes to co-parenting. It is smart to document vacation plans in writing. Parents can alternate vacation years to keep things fair.

Create a Plan

Continue your parenting plan throughout the summer and plan ahead for the new schedule. Keeping kids on a routine, even if it is a bit more relaxed, makes the transition back to the school year less difficult.

Share Summer Expenses

Camps, vacations, and sports lessons are costly summer pursuits. When both parents share the summer expenses, the children benefit. Both parents should include summer activities in the budget and even include them in the parenting plan or child custody agreement to prevent undue stress and anxiety on the children.

Empower the Children

Every child deserves some care-free summer fun. If the children are old enough to understand, ask them how they want to spend their summer. Try not to assume your child wants to do one thing or another, even if you believe it is best for them. The school year is full of obligations and demands. Letting the kids have a say in how they enjoy this well-deserved free time can make things less stressful.

Bend a Little

Even though a parenting plan for the summer is important, both parents need to allow flexibility. Impromptu parties and playdates are what summer is about and sometimes they occur during the other parent’s visitation time. Parents who are unwilling to bend a little occasionally risk alienating the kids.

Do Not Try to Outdo Your Ex-Spouse

It may be tempting to want to be the parent with the most lavish vacation or elaborate summer plans but trying to compete with your ex-spouse is a losing game. Kids will remember the time you spent together, whether it was sightseeing in Europe or camping in the backyard. Be present and remember that summer is about quality time spent making lifelong memories.