Summer Holidays – Parenting Apart
The key to parenting apart is largely about being well organised, respectful, communicating and having a routine everyone agrees to try and work to for the children’s sake.
As a result both you and your children know what is happening when, and there is some stability in your day to day lives.
As children grow needs change and inevitably there’s ups and downs; but most separated parents will find a way of making things work during school term time quite simply because they have to. But when the long summer holiday comes around things can get a bit more challenging.
Routines go out the window, everyone wants to take things a bit easier but it can be difficult.
Plus holiday times can get expensive with additional childcare to pay for, days out and keeping bored children amused costs can spiral so arguments often occur.
If you are the parent who the children live with you’ll be looking forward to some time to yourself or having some fun with the kids rather than just the day to day grind of work, homework and chores.
Whereas if you are the parent who lives apart from your children the summer holidays may be the only time when you get to spend a longer period together. Expectations will be high and you’ll want everything to be perfect. But then you find that you are not used to being together for longer periods and it feels like nothing works out as planned.
Whatever your individual situation holidays do call for a few different strategies. So take time to think about some of the following.
You need a holiday too – parenting apart is hard so remember to take care of yourself. Try and make the most of time when you aren’t with your children and recharge your batteries.
Juggling childcare can be exhausting and expensive but maybe you don’t have to do it all alone. Try and share the load with others. Think creatively. Can you look after your children’s friends at certain times and then work out when they can do the same for you.
Think about using the holidays to put energies into building a network of friends or colleagues with children or other single parents. Try out some new activities with other parents.
Don’t be proud. Ask for help, and accept help when it is offered.
Try not to take your frustrations or anger out on your children. If you need a break or just some adult company try and build that into any plans.
Be as honest as possible with your children about the changes in your life. The first few years of being separated can be particularly painful especially at holiday times. Things wont always go smoothly but keep a sense of humour. Try and have some ‘new’ adventures together.
Involve older children in any plans – give them the chance to tell you what they’d like to do …..you might be surprised.
Remember giving your children a good time doesn’t have to cost the earth – often what children want most is just quality time together.
Recognise that you can't be both parents. There may be some things that children would rather do with one parent than the other so try negotiate ideas with your ex-partner.
Try not to cut the other parent out – or get caught up in arguing about the amount of time spent with children it’s the quality not the quantity than matters.
Try planning in advance as much as possible by talking directly to the other parent – don’t make arrangements through children.
And remember there is no such thing as a perfect parent; holidays are not about competing for who can give children the best time – parenting apart is tough and work and school is tiring – so try and enjoy taking it a bit easier and not put too much pressure on holiday time.