5 Helpful Guidelines for Talking to an Ex About Summer Plans
Does the mere thought of negotiating schedule changes with an Ex make your head hurt?
You're not alone! Coordinating calendars between two homes is a common frustration for countless stepfamilies. Everything from medical appointments to extracurricular activities can create conflict.
It's not just the conflict that can create headaches…you might also experience feelings of guilt when your kids end up missing out on a fun activity because of conflicting schedules that just couldn't be worked out. That can even turn into tension between you and your kids — making you feel even worse.
And sometimes the biggest scheduling challenges seem to be centered around the fun stuff — like vacations. And right now the summer vacation season is coming up quick!
You might be asking, "Really? Isn't it a bit early to be talking about Summer Vacations?". If you've got some negotiating to do with an Ex, it's never too early…
…every parent can reduce the tension around scheduling adjustments if they plan early and follow these simple tips:
5 Tips for Stepfamily Scheduling
Resist the urge to procrastinate. If you're like me, you'll put off the dreaded task of approaching this subject altogether — especially if you've been met with hostility and resistance in the past. Nonetheless…the sooner the better! Last minute requests have the appearance of disrespect and can add pressure to the situation.
Attitude is everything! Consider how you would like to be approached with a scheduling issue. You don't want your Ex to come at you with an entitled or demanding tone, so do your best to keep yourself in check. A respectful request along with ample time to consider and respond will make your appeal easier to swallow (and ultimately it fosters a peaceful co-parenting relationship).
Avoid unnecessary changes whenever possible. Most kids feel secure when routines are predictable and uninterrupted. For their sake, do your best to schedule your vacation plans in a way that makes the smallest impact to their visitation schedule. This one isn't about appeasing or accommodating the Ex…it's about providing stability for your kids.
Always have agreement with an Ex before sharing your plans with the kids. Telling Johnny you're planning a camping trip or a Disney adventure before you've worked out the details with their other parent could easily backfire. This will help you avoid disappointing Johnny if it just doesn't work out and it will help minimize the conflict between you and your Ex.
Learn to graciously accept a "No" without evoking a dispute. There are times you just won't get your way. So rather than allowing hostility and resentment to ensue — choose to let it go. You also have the freedom to say no to scheduling changes when you need to. But keep in mind that an Ex will most likely be flexible only to the extent that you are.
Despite your best efforts, there will probably be times when your kids end up missing out on something you've planned. That will often come with feeling guilty and may even lead to anger in the kids…
When Kids Miss Out On Fun Stuff
It's hurtful and frustrating when we've done everything we can to make sure our kids can be present for the fun stuff we plan for our family. But it doesn't always work out…so, what's helpful when all this creates some heartache?
Following the 5 A's of navigating heartache:
Acknowledge your child's feelings and listen with empathy to their perspective — but avoid going into 'fix-it' mode
Assure your child that you're doing your best to include them whenever possible
Abstain from placing blame the other home or badmouthing them in front of your child
Accept that the circumstances are difficult and sometimes disappointing. But keep yourself focused on moving forward
Avoid getting stuck in negativity. Process your feelings with a trusted adult — not your child
Managing your family's schedule while respecting the other home can be challenging to say the least! Compromising will always be necessary.
But you can make meaningful progress as you work towards peaceful solutions that meet everyone's needs!
Don't procrastinate. Get started on making your summer plans today!
QUESTION: What stresses you out the most when it comes to negotiating plans with an Ex? Leave a comment below…