There are certain things you can do to ensure the school holidays go as smoothly as possible, whether you are with or without your kids. Here, we’ve compiled a list of our top tips. If you have questions about how to arrange matters with your ex to minimise tears, contact Cristina Huesch or any of our team here at Alliance Family Law.
1. Minimise conflict with your ex-partner by agreeing on school holiday arrangements early. Once you have negotiated a plan for the year or a period of time with your ex-partner, add the dates to a calendar with the kids, so that they can have a sense of involvement and will know where they are going to be.
2. Communicate with your ex. If handing over the kids for the break, make sure you have figured out any necessary ground rules or issues beforehand. If possible, keep the other parent up-to-date on any issues your child might not disclose. You might need to review arrangements as your children grow older and their needs change.
3. If your children are traveling during the holidays, review travel plans with them, so you can acknowledge and alleviate any fears and anxieties regarding their upcoming travels.
4. If your ex wants to take the kids away on holiday you may feel anxious too, especially if the plan is to go overseas. Sharing information, itineraries, contact details and other important information helps both parent. Try to keep in contact during the holiday, even if it’s just a quick call or a text.
5. Avoid conflict at changeover by having a neutral pick-up point or have a friend with you to act as a buffer.
6. Accept that you may experience a variety of emotions when your children are away: loneliness, relief, hurt and often guilt. It’s important to share those feelings with another adult, not the child.
7. Allow your child to express their feelings. Find a quiet time and ask them how they are. Tell them you know it is different and strange.
8. Act normal. Don’t send them off with a display of sadness, disappointment or anger. They should not be made to feel guilty or conflicted. Encourage them to enjoy themselves and tell them you’ll be looking forward to seeing them when they return to you.
9. Take your mind off missing them by staying busy. Catch up with friends or doing something for yourself. Do things to satisfy your own needs for once: take a walk, go to a grown-up movie, lunch with an old friend.
10. Minimize the tough times. Know you will feel bad, but know it will end. Do stuff you never have time for. If you’re lonely, reach out to some kind of support group, even online. You’ll realise you are not the only one. Create new rituals for yourself. Find new, fun things to do. You’ll soon re-learn to appreciate the rare experience of being alone to do whatever you like!
11. When you have the kids during the holidays, involve them in the holiday planning processes where possible, especially as they get older. When they are invited to contribute ideas, there will be fewer complaints along the way.
12. Seek out deals for single parents. Many travel companies have special deals for single parents, offering facilities and packages especially designed for holidaying single parents and their children. There are some companies who specialise in this, so it’s worth doing a bit of research online. Seek out destinations that provide stimulating childcare and entertainment choices for children if you wish to have a little adult time to pursue your own interests too.
13. Stick to your budget. There is plenty of good, cheap family accommodation available, such as the YHA chain. Alternatively, you might consider teaming up with another single family or friend to share costs.
14. Plan for safety. Safety is a real concern among single parents so always ensure a family member or friend knows your itinerary and plans. Talk to your kids about safety do’s and don’ts before you go; practice what to do in certain situations. Wristbands for the kids, with contact info, might help alleviate some stress about them getting lost.
15. Understand the unique pressures you have, and be kind to yourself. Single parent travel presents challenges unlike any other family holiday—there are the added expenses, lack of support and absence of down time. Sometimes, a new location seems to trigger kids to push boundaries, so make sure the kids understand that being on holidays doesn’t mean having no rules at all.
16. Remember to have fun, be spontaneous, create new family traditions and rituals. Holidays are the perfect opportunity to spend time together as a family. You are sure to return home with valuable memories that will last a lifetime.