Summer vacations are a time for family fun and relaxation. Following Divorce, family trips are certainly different than they used to be, but the notion of vacation remains the same. It is a time to enjoy each other, have fun, get away from your daily duties and relax. Like planning and packing for a trip, there are some ways to best prepare yourself and children for a successful vacation together. As in many other instances, it all starts and ends with good communication. Here are some general guidelines to follow when balancing a family vacation and your responsibilities to an ex-spouse.
- Communicate your plans. When planning a family trip, communicate the desired travel dates to your ex-spouse. Be flexible, if the schedule allows. Propose a few dates, and choose the ones which work best for all parties. Remember that most Divorce settlements stipulate proper notice which is to be given to the other parent regarding family trips. Notify your ex-spouse as to your travel plans with plenty of notice. It’s not only courteous, but usually required.
- Embrace new traditions. There is no question that the dynamic of any family vacation will be different after Divorce. Find new ways to focus on enjoying your time together. Perhaps, you can choose a different destination than the one particular place you go every summer, or you can invite friends or extended family to come along. Mix it up, it’s ok. Try something new, like water skiing or a ride on a big roller coaster. Now, that would make for some great new memories!
- Take turns. It’s easy to go on vacation with your kids, but it’s not so easy when it’s your ex’s turn for a trip. Recognize that this is fair. Both parents are entitled to vacation time. When your kids are away with the other parent, plan some things for yourself. This is an opportunity to have some time for you. Maybe plan a get-away with friends, or simply enjoy the time off from your daily parenting duties. Let your children be stress-free in their travels with their mom or dad, and both you and your kids will benefit.
- Have fun! Leave the stress behind. It takes time, preparation and money to plan a family vacation, so enjoy it. Let your kids have fun, and be genuine in your own enjoyment. When it is your ex’s turn to enjoy family time away, respect it. Allow for their time together, and be happy for your kids.
- Communicate back to your ex-spouse. Keep in mind, there is another parent who wants to know how the kids are doing. Let your kids check-in with their mom or dad. Let them share their excitement, and talk with their other parent. Your ex is likely missing his or her parenting time while you are away, so it’s reasonable to think that there will be communication. When it is time for your children to be away with your ex, you would certainly want the same opportunity to speak with your kids. Make the most of your family vacations this summer by planning, communicating and enjoying the moment. Safe travels, and happy memories from the summer of ‘14!