Divorce is not easy for anyone, especially those with children. We establish a life around our families, and divorce forces us to redirect that life and create a new one. The one constant factor in all of the chaos, of course, is the children. We need to be reminded constantly, that this kind of change can be detrimental to the children.
The two things that families struggle with are holidays and summer vacations. Summer vacation as a divorced parent can be challenging; it is a prolonged period of time when the children are not in school, so you and your ex-spouse must work together in a cooperative and understanding manner to co-parent and work around each other’s schedules.
Below are 11 tips and ideas to help manage summer vacation as a divorced parent.
1. Plan ahead! Nothing makes things easier than a plan. Planning ahead and making sure that the plan works for both parents and children is best. Use tools such as Google Calendar to collaborate effectively.
2. Let older children and teens help in the planning process. Make sure that this is done in a transparent way with everyone involved so that your family will still hold on to that united front, and feel combined.
3. Communicate effectively – this ensures that everyone is heard, understood, and the plan will be able to proceed.
4. Celebrate each other’s efforts in the planning process.
5. Avoid the phrase “My Time” when referring to your parenting period with the children.
6. Use the summer to maximize spending time with your child. At the times that you do have your children, try one of the items below:
- Beach Day
- Library Day
- Ice Cream Day
- Visit the Zoo
- Go to the park and fly kites!
- Playdays in the yard followed by a hot dog bbq
- Water Balloon Fights!
- Gardening Days
- Movie Nights
7. Be sensitive to important events such as birthdays, father’s day, etc.
8. Welcome your children’s friends over at all times. The extra company over the summer may act as a buffer and help your child transition better to their new way of life.
9. Make plans for your own relaxing “me-time” when your child is visiting with the other parent. This may be fun and something you look forward to.
10. Let the “VEGGING” period begin! Let your child sleep in, watch tv for an extra hour or two, and just veg out if needed.
11. Relax and just spend time with your children. Concentrate on what’s most important to you, and make beautiful memories!
If this is your first summer vacation as a divorced parent, there may be some bumps along to road as you and your co-parent figure out how to work together without anger or blame. Divorce doesn’t have to mean that your family is “broken”: the dynamic has changed, but you are still very much a family. Your relationship with your ex-spouse has changed, but you are still partners in the business of raising happy, healthy children. Make the transition and shift easier for everyone by not holding on to bitter feelings, and try your best to be amicable at all times. The results will be a successful co-parented, united family, with happy children, and parents who are good friends.