Family Vacations after Divorce
- Vacationing as co-parents
- Benefits of family vacations post-divorce
- Potential pitfalls
- Communicating with your co-parent
- Making it fun for everyone
A family spring break or summer vacation may have been part of your routine before you got divorced. Now, things are different. After a divorce, making vacation plans with the kids – but without your former spouse – may feel lonely, awkward, and stressful. You might wonder how you would handle the kids by yourself or if they would even be happy on a vacation without your ex.
So here’s a thought: What would happen if you and your ex decided to vacation together?
It’s not for everyone, but vacationing as a family post-divorce is more commonplace than it used to be thanks to celebrity influences. You may wonder, “If celebrities can do it, why can’t I?”
Of course, many celebrities have a staff of nannies to fill in the holes when they can’t deal with their kids’ meltdowns. You may not have a staff of nannies. You are likely the one to deal with your kids day in and day out, and you know your kids need consistency, stability, and as much normalcy as possible after your divorce.
Could vacationing as divorced parents provide this stability and normalcy for your kids while lightening your load?
Free worksheet: Create Your Co-Parenting Plan
Vacationing together after divorce as co-parents
In theory, vacationing as co-parents sounds like a pretty good idea, especially if your divorce was relatively friendly and you’ve been co-parenting successfully.
But going on vacation together is an altogether different animal than handing off the kids on schedule and the occasional birthday party together. No matter how amicable your divorce was, vacationing as co-parents, while possible, requires extensive planning, lots of open and honest communication, and a big dose of emotional maturity.
Last-minute travel plans with your ex and kids may not be the best idea. A well-thought-out vacation plan is key for traveling parents with kids after divorce.
Benefits of vacationing as a family
There are some benefits to vacationing as a family post-divorce.
- Vacationing with kids is easier when two adults share the responsibilities.
- Vacationing as co-parents eliminates any conflict you and your spouse may have about parenting time during that precious window of vacation time.
- Your kids see you and your ex-spouse cooperating and spending time together respectfully and peacefully.
- It can save you money if you pool your funds.
- It makes you appreciate how working together enhances your kids’ well-being (and maybe even your relationship with your ex-spouse).
Your emotional conflicts: But before you buy tickets and pack your bags, be honest with yourself. If you still have a lot of mixed feelings about your ex, vacationing together can make those conflicting feelings bubble up to the surface. A tense family vacation is not a pleasant family vacation for anyone.
Your kids’ feelings: Your kids may also get mixed signals. They may wonder why you got divorced at all if you’re going on vacation together. It could even kindle their hopes that you and your ex are reconciling.
Sharing expenses: Money may be tight for both of you after your divorce. Will you be able to navigate the money issues associated with a vacation as ex-spouses if you had a hard time doing that when you were married?
Communicating with your co-parent
As in every co-parenting situation, respectful and honest communication is key. You both need to be on the same page about how to handle any issues or conflicts that arise. This includes your attitudes toward each other. Can you remain peaceful and respectful for the benefit of the kids? The last thing you need during your vacation is a rerun of the marital discord everyone experienced before the divorce.
You’ll also want to be clear about expectations and responsibilities. Beware of those old marriage roles and well-worn grooves. You may have been the one who juggled all the cooking, cleaning, and disciplining in your pre-divorce family system. Now, post-divorce, you shouldn’t be expected to slip into those old patterns. Creating clear boundaries is critical.
Then there are the technicalities and logistics of your travel plans. How will you fairly share expenses? How will you handle discipline with the kids? Will you do everything together, or will you each take time with the kids separately? How will you handle lodging, and who will be with the kids? If one parent – or both of you – is remarried and there are new siblings, how will you keep things fair and equitable?
Getting these potential issues on the table now is essential if you want a smooth vacation that allows everyone to enjoy their time together.
Making it fun for everyone
Your vacation is all about the kids and enjoying meaningful contact with them. But it’s important to be sensitive to what they’ve gone through and how they’re feeling. The best way to have a fun vacation as a family post-divorce is to keep it as kid-focused as possible. Choose a kid-friendly hotel, and plan your time together with them as your focus.
Take some cues directly from your kids. What would they like to do? If they just want to play at the beach, why not? Don’t overschedule. Stay flexible. Keep some routines to ensure consistency and stability in the vacation's ever-changing landscape. If everyone is tired and cranky, take a breather. The important thing is that your kids have fun and see their parents interacting in a friendly and respectful way.
Divorce isn’t just a legal transaction. It affects every aspect of your and your kids’ lives. What works for one couple may not work for another, and that’s okay. If vacationing with your ex is something you’ve toyed with, consider all the pros and cons, and then do what makes sense for you.
At Hello Divorce, we know that divorce looks different for every couple. When divorcing spouses find cooperative common ground, everyone benefits. Have questions about our online divorce plans, mediation, or any of the other services we offer? We can help. Just schedule a free 15-minute call.