I was divorced over the past school year and our children are facing their first summer of divided holidays. How can I make sure that our children feel Ok with plans? What can I do to keep myself on track?
First of all include your children in plans if they old enough. Talk to them about the possibilities. They can go here with you and go there with your former spouse. What is the best arrangement for them?
Approach this conversation calmly. Your children’s first effort will be to try to say what they think you want to hear. Assure them that their preferences and opinion matter and you will do everything to make their wishes possible.
Take the opportunity to make it more than a question and answer chat. Too often in our busy lives, a family discussion can get rushed. The first for everything after a divorce is always the most difficult so you want to get it right. It will get easier.
But the most effective step is to ensure everyone knows the plans or possibilities and that they know them well in advance for these first post-divorce holiday plans.
Divorce creates an element of uncertainty in a child’s life. They have probably entertained the notion they are somehow to blame for the divorce. The last thing they need right now is uncertainty for what should be some fun planning a holiday.
Communicate with your X what your preferences are but be open to negotiation within reason. You set the tone. Make sure that whatever is planned is fair and equitable for both sides. It may mean that the equity is not possible during the summer holiday for a variety of reasons that can’t be changed- work holidays being an example.
So an alternate plan or rebalancing can happen at the next school holiday. Negotiate, compromise and let your children see that you and your former spouse can make decisions for the greater good of the family even after a divorce. Explain these negotiations to your children so they understand there will be a give and take.
The more that you and your X endeavour to work together without any arguing, the greater the chance that the holidays will go smoothly for everyone. Children of divorce do not need more worry arranging summer holidays.
Once arrangements have been finalized then you can begin to organize what you will do while your children are away.
This is the time to be good to yourself. Divorce is traumatic. You have probably expended an enormous amount of energy adjusting to the new circumstances after the divorce. So plan something special for yourself- whatever the budget allows. If it means a holiday with friends then enjoy it. If it means a staycation and local museums and fairs then enjoy that too.
One of my great joys in life is traveling alone. I have met the most interesting people because I am not with anyone who absorbs my attention. I am free to talk to the person beside me on the plane or the people beside me at the picnic table in the park. Being on your own opens up a whole new field of possibilities.
It’s a new life with many new challenges. View it as a time with many new opportunities as well. If you are in control of your own life then your children will be able to breathe out and enjoy life too.
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ABOUT LINDA SIMPSON
I take strength from your calm, your honesty, and the hope you give me for my future.” Cheryl
Linda is a fresh voice in the divorce advice world. She offers a pragmatic, common sense approach to life after divorce issues based on over twenty years surviving and thriving following a very traumatic divorce.
As a single parent, her sons are an enormous source of joy in her life. She is a loving mother and grandmother to four delightful grandchildren.
She holds a degree from the University of Waterloo with concentrations in sociology and philosophy and guidance counselling certification from Queen’s University.
She is an accredited trainer for The Peace Education Foundation, a leader in conflict resolution training. The institute is ‘dedicated to educating children and adults in the dynamics of conflict resolution and promoting peacemaking skills in home, schools, and community.’
In a long and successful teaching career, she also served as a counsellor and workshop facilitator for SEL (social emotional learning) programming and The Peace Education Foundation throughout her school and school district and was a frequent conference presenter for SUNY Potsdam Faculty of Education USA.
She writes for The Divorce Magazine UK and her blog is seen regularly on Huffington Post Canada where the focus is life after divorce and parenting issues.
She is a writer and poet and is presently at work on a book based on her divorce experience.