When facing the first summer after a divorce, you may have concerns about how vacation time with your children this year. If you are a noncustodial father, summer break might be the first time you will spend an extended amount of time with your children since the split. If you share custody, travelling, camping and spending time off from school bring new challenges to co-parenting.

Follow these steps to help summer vacation go smoothly after divorce.

Plan carefully

Your child custody agreement should detail summer vacation plans. Some agreements even designate specific dates. When scheduling is flexible, contact your former spouse early to coordinate vacation dates with the kids.

Ideally, you should have the summer calendar in place before spring break rolls around to avoid arguments about parenting time. Consider specifying minimum advance notice or submission of an annual family calendar in the parenting plan.

Consider kids’ wishes

Make children feel heard when you are scheduling summer vacation plans. Older kids and teens will have strong opinions about destinations and prioritizing spending time with friends. They may also have responsibilities like sports practice or part-time jobs.

Create a routine

Even when you are just spending time at home with your children over summer break, they do best when some kind of routine is in place. Try to keep a regular bedtime and a schedule for daily activities with outdoor play, chores, bathing, reading time and more.

Stay in contact

Arrange for kids to keep in touch with the other parent when they are staying with you for several weeks. If you are traveling, encourage them to send a postcard or bring a small souvenir home for mom. By the same token, respect your children’s time with their mother and help them get excited about upcoming trips she has scheduled.

Communication is key when it comes to successful co-parenting after a divorce. Remaining open will help everyone, especially your kids, enjoy their summer together.