Summer vacation for most families is seen as a time of relaxation and fun. However, for former spouses, summer vacation can be anything but fun and relaxing. For many divorced or divorcing couples, summer vacation can reignite old fights about the children regarding where to vacation, when to take a vacation, who will have the children, or how long he or she will have the children. Something as innocent as a vacation can turn into a heated argument, creating negative feelings for everyone involved.
Summer vacations mark a significant change in a child’s as well as a parent’s normal routine. Some routine changes can be thrilling while others are met with anxiety, sadness, and frustration. School’s out and summer visitation with the non-custodial parent means the child may be spending more time with the non-custodial parent over the summer, and the custodial parent may not have the opportunity to see or spend a lot of time with the child or children over the summer. Notably, children that do not share both parents many times do not have the opportunity to spend a lot of time together over the summer if the other sibling is vacationing with the non-shared parent.
Summer Vacation Tips for Divorcing or Divorced Parents
For divorced or divorcing parents, summer vacation does not have to be a battleground or source of contention. Many children spend large chunks of time with their non-custodial parent over the summer. Whether your child will be spending his or her summer with the other parent nearby, going across town to spend a few weeks with your ex, or traveling to another state for visitation, preparing for and adjusting to the absence can be very difficult.
Parents can ease the transition and make things go smoother by using some of the following seven tips:
- Remind yourself that your ex loves the child or children just as much as you do and will act in their best interest.
- Engage in advanced planning and find out where your child will be spending his or her summer, ensure you have additional methods of contact in the event of an emergency, discuss any food allergies with your ex, find out who will be caring for your child when your ex is at work.
- Create a scheduled time or agree to speak or Skype with your child every day, or every other day to check in your child (make sure you do not make excessive calls as the non-custodial parent needs to have time bonding with his/her children as well).
- Provide the other parent with the child’s medication, and pediatrician’s information.
- Allow children to take toys and other treasured items with them to ensure they do not feel as if they can have to give up or sacrifice the comforts of one home to be with the other parent.
- Prepare your child to spend time away from you. Remind him or her they will be going to be with the other parent who loves them and is so excited to be able to spend time with them. Tell your child will miss them and know they will miss you as well, but you will be together again very soon. Do not dwell on how hard the separation will be for you.
- Prepare yourself for time without your child or a summer without the child. Think ahead about how you will use your time. Use it for reconnecting with old friends, spending time with family, completing projects around the house, dating and pampering yourself.
For divorcing couples, summer vacation does not have to mean you lose contact with your child or you are unable to remain active in his or her life. Spending time with and having access to both parents is necessary for a child’s healthy functioning and development, so if you can’t spend summer vacation with your child, be sure to make up for lost time after summer is over.