Summer Vacation Fun in a Divorced Family
By Brette McWhorter Sember
Kids wait all year for summer vacation. But when parents are divorced
or separated, summer vacation becomes more complicated. Kids look
forward to long days with their friends doing nothing. When they have
a parenting schedule to live with, summer loses some of its fun. Your
child needs to spend time with both parents - that's a given. So how
do you keep the parenting schedule from messing up your child's summer
around it. If you and your child dream of lazy days at the beach
or crazy afternoons at an amusement park, plan your family's schedule
around the parenting schedule. Try to work, clean the house, or
do volunteer work while your child is with the other parent. Save
the big events for days when your child is with you. If you have
children and step children with conflicting schedules, talk with
both sets of parents and look for a way to make adjustments so that
you can all have family time together once in a while.
friends. One of the biggest concerns kids have about schedule is
not being able to see their friends. Make it clear friends are welcome
at your home anytime. If you're the non-custodial parent, go the
extra step and offer to drive the friends (who probably live near
your child's other home) to your home.
other plans. Whether you're the custodial or non-custodial parent,
it's impossible to be with your child the entire time he or she
is at your house. Look for alternatives that will keep your child
happy and occupied while you're busy. Look for a class or day camp
that ties into his or her interests - zoo camp, art camp, soccer
camp - the choices are huge. Planning this activity will give your
child something to do and will ease any guilt you might feel (you
shouldn't!) about not being completely available.
of yourself. Be sure to plan some adult fun for the days your child
is away. You're supposed to enjoy the summer too and those days
on your own are the perfect times to explore new places, meet people,
and expand your own horizons.
what it's like to be a kid. There were plenty of times when your
idea of a good time was sleeping till noon, spending 4 hours in
front of the tv, or plugging yourself into a video game. The same
probably holds true for your child. Let him or her have time to
just veg. You don't need to plan excursions and events every time
your child is at your home. Let there be time for just being a kid.
Stop pressuring yourself to create the perfect summer for your child.
If you look back you probably will find that your favorite summer
memories are of small, everyday things. You're not a cruise director;
you're a parent. There's a lot to be said for quiet dinners on the
porch, picnics in the backyard, ice cream cones on a hot night,
and fun in the sprinkler together.
McWhorter Sember is a former family law attorney and author of How
to Parent With Your Ex, No-Fight Divorce, and The Divorce Organizer
& Planner. For more information, visit www.brettesember.com