Many families look forward to spring break. However, planning for spring break when you share custody can be complicated. Whether you’re planning a vacation or just looking forward to the break in your usual routines, there is a lot that must be coordinated with your co-parent. This can create stress and conflict between families. But with open communication and some time spent planning, you can reduce the hassle and avoid arguments.
Keep reading for five helpful tips on spring break planning for co-parents.
#1: Review Your Parenting Plan or Custody Agreement
Before you start any planning for spring break, you should review your custody agreement or parenting plan. In addition to your custody schedule, your parenting plan will often outline rules regarding custody during extended school breaks and holidays. Even if your parenting plan does not specifically mention spring break, it can give you guidelines for how school breaks will be handled in general.
If your custody agreement or parenting plan does not provide any guidance regarding extended breaks and holidays, you should review your regular custody schedule during the spring break period. This way, when you speak with your child’s other parent, you will have a good idea of what adjustments (if any) will need to be requested to accommodate your plans.
#2: Start Planning Well in Advance
Waiting until the last minute to make spring break plans is a recipe for stress. While a spontaneous trip may sound like fun, you should avoid springing something like this on your children and your co-parent, especially if the vacation involves adjusting your custody schedule. The sooner you start planning, the better.
Additionally, before you make any hotel reservations or purchase any plane tickets, you should speak with your child’s other parent. Open a dialogue with them specifically about spring break. Ensure they know the dates and begin discussing what you hope to do with the children during the holiday. Include where you planned to go, where you will be staying, and how they can keep in touch with the children while they are away.
#3: Don’t Assume You Are the Only One with Plans
It is not uncommon for both parents to look forward to extended time with their children over spring break. It is important that you do not assume that you were the only one making plans. Because spring break is typically only a week, it may be impossible to accommodate both parent’s plans, especially if you and your co-parent wanted to take a vacation with the kids during this period. You should be prepared to be flexible and compromise in order to find a solution.
#4: Create a Shared Calendar or Planning Document
Once you and your co-parent have mapped out your spring break custody schedule, create a shared spring break calendar or planning document. This can help you and your co-parent stay on the same page. Additionally, having your plans in writing can help clear up any confusion or misunderstandings that may arise.
If you plan to take a vacation with your children, include important itinerary and contact information for the trip. This can help a nervous co-parent feel more confident while their children are away and give them a way to keep in touch with the children during the trip. You should also include emergency contact information in case something happens while you are away.
#5: Try to Be Flexible
Spring break planning may require a change in your normal custody or visitation schedule. Often, if one parent decides to take the children on vacation, the other parent will have to give up their normally scheduled time. Drop-off locations, times, and days may need to change as well. When this is the case, do your best to remain flexible and open-minded. Try to work with the other parent to ensure that any needed make-up time is scheduled.