While it is great to enjoy March Madness with the ultimate in collegiate basketball, I’ve learned that March Madness is very real. And I’m not talking basketball. For many families that I work with, this time can be very stressful. The deadline for summer parenting time designations in most divorce decrees is April 1st. And then comes the additional visitation selections by the other parent. Trying to figure out all the details can be harrowing for many.
It is that time of year for single parents and stepfamilies…
If you and your ex have managed to find a way to work through this issue without going through the official designation process as assigned by the decree, you deserve congratulations. I’m so glad that you can do this.
This is for those of you who are new to this summer parenting time designation period, or for those of you who find yourself feeling like there is a bowling ball in the pit of your stomach. Because it is not unusual, that many of you may really struggle with your ex who, for whatever reason, does not make it easy.
I know it may not be easy, but you can do this…
Keep in mind the following tips for keeping your sanity and losing the bowling ball feeling between now and the time the summer schedule is resolved.
For both parents to remember:
- Make sure to follow your decree and make your summer parenting time designations by the deadline date.
- Make your designations in a way that you know your ex will get your designation by email, mail or fax. It you have a high conflict ex, you might send it all these ways :).
- If your ex is taking the kids for a week or weeks at a time, stop fretting and start planning your summer with that in mind.
- I have seen many parents spend lots of time and money trying to control the summer- don’t. Your children always suffer.
If you are designating first:
- Take as much visitation as you can under your decree- when you are the parent who has their children less than the other parent during the school year.
- Ideally, if you are taking all your visitation, you are also going to be present at least 2/3 of the time they are with you each period.
- While it is great to let grandparents or the stepparent have some with your kids, you are the biological parent and they need your time most importantly.
If you are designating second:
- Don’t set yourself up to be unhappy about what your ex scheduled. Since you designate last, use flexible thinking to be okay with whatever time you have.
- Remember that the other parent that designates first generally doesn’t have long weekends and weeks at a time with their children during the school year except for holidays. Please don’t resent their visitation or get frustrated about it.
- Remind yourself that your children really do need time with both parents.