Summer Vacation Tips for Separated or Divorced Parents
Summer vacation is about to begin in Montgomery County, Maryland which means school time schedules are about to change. How does summer effect separated or divorced families? For many, summer vacation means added stress in trying to modify schedules to adjust to camp, vacations, and less structure.
Here are some tips to make adjusting to a summer schedule easier for you and your children:
- If you have a Parenting Plan, review it. Does anything need to bemodified? Make sure vacations and camp schedules do not conflict with parenting times, and if they do, try to work out a compromise in advance. Do you need additional child care? If so, make sure you and your former spouse have discussed options and made arrangements.
- Try to maintain some consistency. While rules may be more relaxed in the summer, it is helpful for children to have similar rules in both households. Discuss expectations with your spouse or former spouse to try and maintain comparable rules in both homes.
- If you are planning to travel with your children, make sure you are prepared. Review your Agreement to make sure there are no restrictions on traveling with your children. Do you need to provide your former spouse with details about your trip? Even if your Agreement or Order does not provide for this, it is common courtesy to provide the non-traveling parent with an itinerary of the trip. Will your children be able to communicate with their other parent while they are away? Make sure their other parent has all necessary contact information. If passports are needed, make sure they are in order and the other parent has provided permission for the children to travel out of the country, if necessary.
- Have a realistic financial budget. Now that you are separated or divorced your financial situation may not allow you to take a big summer vacation. Even if the other parent can still afford a fancy trip, it does not mean you have to do the same. There are many local activities that you and your children can enjoy. Instead of a week long stay at the beach, you can go for a long weekend. Plan a day trip to an amusement park or plan to try several different parks during the summer. Take advantage of the museums, monuments, and other free or nearly free, activities DC has to offer. Check Groupon or Living Social for fun summer deals on activities for you and your children. With a little planning you and your children can have a terrific summer without spending a fortune.
If you follow these tips your summer should be less stressful and more enjoyable. If you find that you and your spouse are having difficulty agreeing on summer plans, Hess Family Law is happy to assist you in resolving your dispute.
Separation and Divorce: Keeping in Touch with Your Children
For many, the thought of not seeing their children on a daily basis can be difficult, but when you divorce, it is inevitable that your children will spend time with your former spouse whether you have shared custody, sole custody, or visitation. Veronique De Miguel posted an article on Mamiverse.com with some suggestions for keeping in touch with your children when they are with your former spouse. Here are some of Ms. De Miguel’s suggestions, as well as some of my own:
- Call your children on a regular basis (unless you are restricted by Agreement or Court Order). When you call remember these rules:
- Keep it brief and positive;
- Do not call at improper hours;
- Do not use your children as messengers;
- Do not be upset or discouraged if your child chooses not to speak with you on the telephone. Some children don’t enjoy talking on the telephone or don’t want to be interrupted when they are engaged in something else. However, it is still beneficial for them to hear that you called and wanted to speak to them. Sometimes it is your effort that is most important.
- Send letters, greeting cards or post cards. Even in today’s world of instant messaging, kids still love to receive mail. Again, keep your letter brief and positive. If you want, enclose a picture or a small inexpensive trinket in the mail, such as a stick of bubble gum, a pencil, or other small item that your child might enjoy.
- Use Skype, I-chat, or any other VOIP technology.
- Email or text if your child is old enough and has their own account. Remember, anything you write or send will likely be read by your former spouse. Also, make sure you don’t “over do it” by texting or emailing too often. You don't want to be perceived as pestering and you don’t want to turn your child away from you rather than bringing your child closer to you. When communicating with your child, be reassuring, positive and open.
- Have a special “coming home” tradition. Establish a tradition for you and your children to enjoy when they return to you after being with their other parent for several days or more. It can be as simple as going out for a special treat, reading a favorite book together, or playing a game, or it can be more complex such as a special dinner that includes a menu of favorite foods, or to which each family member invites a friend It is beneficial for your child to have something to look forward to, in addition to seeing you, especially if they might be sad they are leaving the other parent.
- Be Generous. Let your children know you love them, but do not expect anything in return. Children often feel that they are betraying the other parent if they show too much emotion or talk to long with the other parent. Also, children don’t always have the same desire to share as adults do, they need to keep some things “their own” and private. Let your children know you are there for them.