Surviving a Summer of Shared Custody
Plan ahead. Going on vacation? Be sure you and your ex reach an agreement on what your kid needs for the trip -- and who will supply it. (For example, will she need dress clothes during her visit? A new swimsuit?) A checklist in your kid's suitcase is an easy way to keep track of what was sent and what should be returned.
Set up some personal space. If your child doesn't have his own room in both parents' houses, organize space for him before he arrives. If he'll share a room with a full-time kid resident, set aside drawers or closet space for his clothes. This will help him feel like he has his own space -- and the child sharing the room won't feel as intruded upon.
Share important phone numbers. Exchange important contact numbers like your child's doctor, dentist and where you'll be staying if you're going out of town. This is especially important if your child takes regular medication. If you're the non-custodial parent, make sure you're up-to-date on your kid's medications and dosing schedule -- and stick to it. It sounds obvious, but discontinuing meds without consulting your child's doctor may be dangerous to your child's health.
It's okay if they miss home. If your kid complains that she misses her other parent, be supportive -- and know that she's confiding her innermost feelings to you, not necessarily claiming a preference. Look for ways to calm her down and don't take it personally (and definitely don't use it as a license to bad-mouth your ex).
There's company in numbers. Let your kid's friends visit. Allowing older kids to bring their friends along when they visit is a surefire way to guard against boredom -- and keep them grounded when they miss their normal surroundings.
Remember to have fun! Plan activities beforehand to ensure your kid will look forward to her visit. If you're a working parent, day camps are always a big hit. Or, take time off and plan a special trip together.
Think quality, not quantity. By the same token, try not to over-schedule your kid so that every minute is spent doing something. Plan ample time for activities -- but allow time for vegging out and reconnecting, too.
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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.