Written by Audrey Silcox
When a couple divorces, the family will face many changes and when children are involved, they too are affected. One change as a result of divorce will be that of the family vacation. Vacation considerations should be taken into consideration and how it will affect the children's well-being and the parental relationship of co-parenting. Single parenting and vacations may be viewed differently by the children as both parents will not celebrate vacations together as in years past. The family forms a new identity and roles of parents also change during vacation that may be very different as in past vacations. As the family changes to reflect that of co-parenting, expectations from parents concerning the children will also.
What expectations should be considered when planning your vacation now that you are contemplating or already divorced?
- Notice in advance – There is nothing worse than planning a special trip for months with hours spent to complete a fun filled agenda to learn that the other parent had the same idea, what happens then? Do parents proceed to take the children to the same location and attempt to offer a more lavish vacation than the other parent? Not only may this be confusing to the children but also may be viewed as a waste of money. It is often helpful to know when the other parent has planned time away with the children. This not only informs the other parent but also allows for sufficient planning for both parents. Giving notice of the vacation intentions may reduce the likelihood that both parents would plan a trip during the same time period, especially if a parenting schedule has not yet been created. Knowing vacation plans in advance can help parents emotionally knowing that the children will be spending time with the other parent possibly in a different city that may require air travel or extensive travel. This information may help the other parent become proactive in their own life during this time period to plan “me” time in order to take care of yourself. Allowing time to nurture yourself emotionally and physically will often produce a better parent. Having time to focus on your needs while the children are away may reduce dwelling on the children’s absence and allow you to reconnect with yourself and maybe old friends. Sufficient time notice to the other parent that a trip is planned is often appreciated! This allows for both parents to be aware of the other parent’s intentions, reduce vacation planning at the same time and allow time for self-focus.
- Itinerary – Knowing details about the children when with the other parent is reassuring to both parents. The vacation itinerary may include general information such the designated time for the vacation, noting days of travel, hotel accommodations including physical address and contact information. Deciding factors for the divorce decree, whether children are allowed to travel out of the country without the other parent’s approval, should be discussed in length and incorporated into your parenting plan. Allowing both parents to be aware of basic information concerning vacation plans and how to contact the children should an emergency arise is often reassuring to both parents.
- Children’s medical history – Both parents should be proactive concerning the health of their children and keeping abreast of all diagnoses and allergies is a must. When co-parenting between homes, it may be confusing what the latest diagnoses were when the other parent took the child to the physician. It may be wise to keep a small note pad in your purse, briefcase or car console that is dedicated for this purpose and can be easily accessible when packing for a trip. Having current medical history is important for the child’s well-being and safety.
- Contact during vacation – Parents worry about the safety of the children daily but when traveling, it seems that more concerns arise. Setting aside time to allow the children to contact the other parent daily is reassuring. This allows the parent to be at ease concerning safety and the children can share with the other parent fun facts about the vacation. This allows both parents to remain involved during each vacation and thus children may be more at ease with vacationing with only one parent.
Divorce Tool Box understands that divorce brings about changes that affect the entire family. One point to remember when considering vacation time with the children is to provide the other parent necessary information such as medical changes and complete travel plans. Do not forget to allow the other parent contact time with the children during vacation. Thinking ahead and acting upon those thoughts may reduce many worries that could be avoided. Visit divorcetoolbox.com for assistance with divorce, children and co-parenting.