Talk about a double-edged sword.
Summer usually means extended visitation for parents and their kids. That’s a great thing, right? Yes, but with extended time comes an extended absence.
Most summer custody arrangements allow one month together, but it also means one month apart.
This can create a stressful environment for everyone, including the child who is on break after the intensity of an academic school year.
The effects of a difficult summer on the child carries over into the school year.
The stress on the parent also creates feelings of regret or guilt for being unable to provide an epic experience for their child. This places parents in a crux where they spend more than they can afford to provide entertainment for their kids.
This may be driven by guilt, competition to outdo the other parent or a genuine desire to provide memorable adventures.
Now add the dynamics of blended family. When there are kids from the spouse’s side as well, the scenario can exponentially increase in difficulties for all involved.
Satisfying multiple kids with varying interests, ages and experiences can seem almost impossible.
But take heart.
Leah and I just enjoyed another incredible month with all of the kids under roof. Unfortunately, they all left July 1st for a month with their other parents.
We make no secret about how hard we work during the other 11 months so we can spend every second focused on them in June. Planning helps us make sure every one of the kids are provided a stress-free experience while they enjoy their summer break.
I guess one of the things we didn’t plan on was the affect their leaving would have on us. Our first year with everyone together, Leah and I took some time off because we didn’t want to be in an empty, quiet house.
The next summer, we made sure to schedule work travel as soon as the kids left because again, we didn’t want to face the quiet.
Now please don’t misunderstand. We love being home and especially when it’s quiet, whether the kids are there or not, but the drastic shift in a home full of family for a month and just us the very next day is extreme.
Oh, and this summer we took off for a cross-country motorcycle trip when? July 1st.
I’m not saying we’ve found the solution, and “running away” is not the answer. But for the sake of honest disclosure, I think there are a few points to help with the dark days of summer.
- Accept the fact that there is a high emotion with family time, and a low when they leave.
- Commit to not involving the kids in your dread over them leaving.
- Prepare positive activities for you and your spouse in and away from the home to help ease into the transition.
- Establish a regular schedule for contact without imposing on the other parent’s time.
- Use the time to reconnect with your spouse after an extended period focusing on the kids.
While it’s tempting to fill the emptiness with calls and requests for reports, here’s a few tips to allow the kids to maximize their time at either home.
- Do avoid drilling the kids about activities with their other parent while talking with them.
- Do avoid comparing activities or trips they have taken with the other parent.
- Do avoid going overboard about missing the kids and cause them sadness.
- Do avoid calling for the kids all of the time and impede on the other parent’s time.
- Do avoid texting the other parent to give suggestions or instructions for care.
- Do avoid asking for a daily activity report from the other parent.
- Do take comfort in knowing that you enjoyed a wonderful time with your child.
Summer is winding down, and we’re looking forward to seeing the kids come August. But we had another summer of making great memories as a family, and we’re ready to tackle a new school year. Don’t wait until next June to start planning.