Planning a vacation with your kids is never easy, and it can be even more difficult after a divorce. Whether you want to travel or have a staycation during your children’s summer holidays, you will need to keep your parenting plan – and your children’s other parent – in mind.
If possible, start planning for vacations during your divorce. When you craft your custody agreement and parenting plan, you and your co-parent should agree on the length of vacations, advance notice, and any limits or boundaries you may have. For example, some parents do not feel comfortable with international travel or travel that involves a new significant other. Your parenting plan should also consider holidays – during the summer and any other time your children are not in school.
Agreeing on all these important plans before your divorce is finalized will allow you to focus on the fun part when summer finally comes around. When planning your vacation, create an itinerary with dates, flight plans, hotel numbers, and even planned itineraries and share it with your co-parent as soon as possible. If you have older children and teenagers, you can even include them in the planning process. Whether you are the parent vacationing or the one staying at home, let your children be excited about their trip!
Finances may be tight after a divorce, and the first summer after a divorce can be difficult for everyone. Don’t try to one-up each other with expensive vacations or schedule a trip you cannot afford. For young children, a nice day at the beach is the same as a night at a 5-star hotel.
Additionally, be realistic about the expectations of everyone involved. Don’t make things more difficult by planning a trip that will make your co-parent uncomfortable or one that isn’t age-appropriate for your children.
Talk It Out
In post-divorce summer vacations, communication is key. Before you leave, talk to your co-parent about when and how often they will be able to communicate with your children. Will your ex get to talk to the kids every night or once a week? Will there be a scheduled time for calls, or will your children decide when it is time for a call? What about texts and emails? These are all questions you will want to consider, but you should not stop your children from calling mom or dad to tell them about their favorite activity, nor should you have to field calls from your ex all day.
If you’re the at-home parent, try to put your children’s experiences first and get excited about what they’re telling you about. If you’re the vacationing parent, try to think about things from your co-parent’s perspective and do what you can to make the experience easier for them.
After a divorce, sensitivity can go a long day. Be mindful of special events like birthdays and Father’s Day and try to be in town for these important moments. If your plan doesn’t work well for your co-parent, ask why and try to work something out. If a flight gets delayed, don’t throw a fit, and try to give the vacationing parent patience and grace. Allowing for spontaneity on a family vacation you’re not a part of could pay off when it’s your turn to take the kids on holiday.
Ultimately, your post-divorce summer vacation is about strengthening connections, making memories, and having fun. Don’t forget the goal of the trip and keep your kids’ best interests in mind. As long as you make a good plan with your co-parent, you shouldn’t have to stress too much about the vacation. So, take a deep breath and remember to have fun on your vacation.
If you’re the stay-at-home parent, make plans to enjoy your “me-time” and relax. After a divorce, some time to yourself might be just what you need to feel better.
An Important Note About 2020
With the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, planning for summer vacation may be more fraught forever. Please keep safety in mind and follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and all local and statewide authorities.
We look forward to putting our honest, straightforward, and holistic approach to work for you and your family during this difficult time!