Summer vacations don’t have to be stressful or depressing or canceled if you’re going through a divorce. A family vacation can still be an enjoyable experience for all involved, regardless of your marital status. Here are some tips on how to handle summer vacations during and after divorce:
It’s important to have a plan for managing your own emotions during times when you’re on your own and/or for the times when your ex has the kids and you don’t over the summer. If this is your first summer without traditions like vacations together, give yourself some understanding while navigating through these changes. It’s ok not to be ok right now – take time for yourself and remember that it’s alright for things to look different than before. In the meantime, here are some tips to help with this summer and other vacation times in the future:
The first step in managing your emotions is acceptance. Acknowledge that this situation can be a time with many emotions and accept that there will be times of sadness, anger, boredom, or loneliness. Remind yourself that you are strong enough to handle this.
Find ways to occupy your time. Take up a new hobby or activity or volunteer in the community. Connect with friends and family members who can provide support during this time. Participate in activities that help create positive memories; take a road trip, attend classes or seminars, explore local attractions. Focus on self-care and do things to make yourself feel good; go to the spa, read a book, take a long walk along the beach or listen to music that makes you feel happy and at peace. Maybe take a solo vacation if you can.
Make plans ahead of time: Start planning for next year's vacation now! Get an early start so that you can book tickets or hotels in advance and lock in cheaper prices. This will give you something to look forward to and provide a sense of hope that things will get better soon.
If you have children, stay connected with the kids when they’re away from home. Video chat or text regularly so they can show you what they’ve been doing and share stories about their summer adventures. Create a shared photo album where everyone can add photos of their vacations. Read more below for tips to help children of different ages,
By making an effort to manage your emotions through self-care activities while staying connected with your children while navigating summer vacations during divorce can become far more manageable - even when your ex has the kids and you don't. It's important to be mindful of the age of your children and the different ways in which you can help them adjust to this new reality. To help you we came up with these age specific tips:
- Elementary School Kids: Structure the vacation around activities that will keep them entertained and engaged, such as day trips, swimming or a playground. Make sure to keep their routine as similar as possible in order to help ease any anxiety they may feel about the situation. It is important to explain what is happening in terms they can understand. It may be helpful to focus on the positive aspects of having two homes, such as having more time with each parent and getting to explore two distinct places and they may get twice as many vacation trips. Additionally, make sure your kids know that both parents will continue to love them just as much as before.
- Teens: Encourage teens to take part in planning the trip and give them some independence by allowing them to explore different locations on their own or with a friend.Help them determine how their summer vacation will look given the separation, whether it includes two trips with both parents or transitioning between homes. Be sure to make time for both one-on-one time with them and group activities with all of the family members together..
- College Students: For college students who are home for the summer, allow them space from their parents and siblings so they can enjoy their break without feeling like there is too much family tension. Allow them freedom throughout the trip but also ensure that regular check ins occur between you all so everyone feels supported and secure. Make sure they know that you are available to talk if needed and encourage them to reach out when feeling overwhelmed by any emotions related to the divorce.