Whether you are divorcing or separating, it’s not easy to break up. It’s hard to focus on anything but the decisions required to separate from your partner. You are overloaded with decisions about splitting up the assets and debts, custody, living accommodations and planning for the future. In fact, it’s so stressful that daily activities like cooking, cleaning, working and even taking care of the kids sometimes happen on auto-pilot. [>
But summer vacation and caretaking arrangements are two things that really require your focus. In most instances, your children desperately want things to go back to normal. Instead they are faced with change. Their reaction may range from frustration and anger to withdrawal or anti-social behavior.
The summer school break, on top of the family situation, really throws a monkey wrench into your children’s routine. Consider using a summer vacation to observe how well your kids are dealing with the family situation. Spending time in a relaxed atmosphere can be an opportunity for you as a parent to be there when they need you.
Involve the kids when making your plans. Ask them what they want to do, what they want to learn or with whom they would like to spend time? You make the ultimate decision of course. But their input will provide you with the best way to make everyone feel included, safe and important.
When it comes to caretaking, your choice will depend on your children’s ages. YMCA, church, dance or sports camps, a visit to a favorite relative, a babysitter or a live-in au pair are possible options.
Observe your child’s interaction when selecting a caretaker. The caretaker-child relationship is a two-way street, so weigh each of these interactions equally. Kids are often very honest when giving feedback, so ask them what they think.
Always check references for any service, camp or individual that you retain to supervise your children. Contact previous employers or campers to determine if the environment is supportive of their needs during this time. Drop in on them unannounced from time to time and ask them how they are enjoying their summer activity, camp or babysitter.
Although this is an anxious time for you and your kids, taking the time to make a solid summer plan that keeps you in contact with them and gives them opportunities to focus their energy on new experiences can reduce some of the stress and uncertainty about their new ‘family’ life.
©2017 Alpha Center for Divorce Mediation