Divorcing parents love and dread summer

Although we all love the sunny days of summer, divorcing moms and dads sometimes dread the thought of summer without the structure of school for their children. They have to find childcare or a camp for the kids while they are at work. This is especially true for the former stay-at-home parent who is now working outside the home.

Childcare and camps can be expensive. This comes at a time when the couple is having half the resources they once had while married. The financial challenge is finding childcare or camps that are cost-effective while at the same time ones that provide an educational, but fun-filled experience.

Summers are even more complicated by shared custody schedules. Couples who address this concern and come to some agreement, while negotiating the parenting plan, is at an advantage. Be realistic about what you can and cannot do as an equal co-parenting partner. Summer is the time for kids to unwind from the school year especially if this comes at a time they are adjusting to their parent's divorce. How these days are planned set the stage for future years and traditions.

Taking a vacation break with each parent can be double the fun. Also, certain weeks with grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other family members can be a time to experience different life styles. Sometimes, a week in the country followed by a week in a different city or state may be educational as well as fun. If a teen is nearing college age, visits to various colleges and universities may be in order.

Below are some tips to consider.

1. Make plans early - Reduce your anxiety by making plans early. These plans will need to be coordinated with your ex. Sometimes, depending on the marital settlement agreement (or plan in process), the cost of certain activities are split 50/50. Now is the time to review your options.

2. Check with family members - Grandparents may love to have the kids a week or two. It might be a chance to visit cousins in a different state for a week.

3. Check with divorced or single friends and neighbors - This group has been through what you are planning now. Their ideas and recommendations may be invaluable.

4. Research camps and summer programs - If you can afford a program, fine. If not, check into scholarships and other financial assistance.

5. Shift financial priorities - Temporarily, for the summer, you may shift the budget to camps from other discretionary spending.

6. Check local resources - Check if your municipality or church group sponsors free or low fee services.

7. Summer jobs - If your child is a teen, he/she may apply for a summer job. In addition, schools may offer or refer your child to a job that is educational as well as a source of spending money.

In researching camps in the St. Louis area, I found many. Activities include sports, acting, outdoor education, and creative (music and art) to name a few.

A helpful website in locating St Louis area camps is My Summer Camps.  Another is St. Louis Magazine's Guide to St. Louis Sports and Learning Camps.

By planning ahead, your children can have a summer filled with activities and fun which will allow you to go to work with a peace of mind.

At Stange Law Firm, we like to provide information to parents who face divorce or have already gone through the process. In keeping "the best interests of the child" in mind, we hope these links will provide children with opportunities that are fun and intellectually stimulating.