Scheduling summer access can be a challenge. If you are a planner, you’ll want to schedule your holidays with the children well in advance so that you can, of course, make plans. If you are a more spontaneous person, planning in advance may seem really inconvenient and unnecessary. Here are some ways of resolving (or avoiding) this annual challenge:
1) Negotiate an agreement as to when you will each exchange dates for summer. The planner will want it to be well in advance of summer whereas the spontaneous person will be happy with a shorter time frame. Come to an agreement as to the schedule and then both respect it. For example, “Tiger and Elin agree to determine the sharing of care of the children during the children’s summer vacation each year before June 1st with each parent having care of the children equally.”
2) You can define each parent’s share of the summer in very specific and unambiguous terms such as “Tiger has care of the children every July and Elin has care of the children every August, alternating each year”.
3) Some parents will simply continue the normal schedule since both are working during the children’s summer vacation. So they may agree “The regular rotation of the children between Tiger and Elin’s home will continue during the children’s summer vacation except that the drop-off and pick up of the children will be at the children’s daycare or summer camp.” In this case, neither Tiger nor Elin will have care of the children for any special summer vacation time.
4) Other parents will agree to a different rotation of the children from the regular schedule. They may have cared for the children on a two-week rotation during the summer months only. The issue can sometimes be when the rotation begins each year. A special event such as Labour Weekend can be used as a triggering event. For example: “The children will be with each parent on a rotating two-week basis such that the children will be with Elin during the PGA Canadian Open in Toronto each year.”
5) Often both parents want some time alone with their children for their “vacation” each year with the remainder of the summer holidays going according to the regular rotation. For example, “Tiger and Elin may each have the children in their care for 14 consecutive days each summer. Tiger must choose his summer vacation dates by May 1st each year and Elin must choose her dates by June 1st each year in even-numbered years with the opposite occurring in odd-numbered years. The care of the children for the remainder of the children’s summer vacation will be according to the regular parenting schedule except pick up and drop off shall be at Elin’s home (instead of at the school).”
Regardless of your efforts to plan the perfect summer vacation with your children, you always need to be flexible should special events arise. A teenage child may have to take summer school thus scuttling your plans to go camping. Your spouse’s family reunion may be planned during your time with the children. Your child may be invited to a birthday party on the day you planned to go to Wonderland. You may even be invited to play in a PGA golf tournament when you are scheduled to have the kids.
If last-minute changes are necessary, treat your ex-spouse the way you would like to be treated and remember to always do what is best for the children. Consider the issue from the children’s point of view. Remember the clichés: “take the high road”, “bite the bullet” and “do the right thing” when faced with a last-minute change in the schedule.
Lastly, if you and your spouse’s names are “Tiger” and “Elin”, I have some clauses ready for your use. Just give me a call.