It doesn’t matter if you are planning a week-long retreat or simply a weekend getaway, vacations can be an overwhelming task for co-parents. Making sure to pack all the requisite items including entertainment for the journey itself all while making sure you have all the details worked out is exhausting. Fortunately, the end game makes it all worth it. The lifelong memories with your children make all the stress a small price to pay for the invaluable experience.
Factoring in post-divorce considerations can make things even more mentally and emotionally taxing. Some of the most lasting and important childhood memories are made during these family vacations. Now that these no longer include both parties the other parent could feel left out of these crucial memory-making experiences.
Keeping kids connected with co-parent during vacation and sharing the experience with the other parents is a huge challenge but an important one to navigate. Here are three tips for facilitating closing the gap between the other parent and the kids on these vacations.
One must consider it is not just the other, non-traveling parent that is hurt by not being present in these important moments. It is also hard on the kids to not have both parents to share the memories and experiences with. Making provisions for and out-right encouraging the children to contact the other parent goes a long way to ease this burden.
Try not to settle for simply allowing contact. Rather share daily highlights and help to reinforce the family bonds are still strong even after the separation. Encourage purchasing souvenirs, sending postcards, or taking pictures to send to the other parent. This will let your child know that you want them to stay connected and share these important moments with both parents, even if one is not in person.
Don’t leave communication entirely up to the kids either. They may be too absorbed at the moment and enjoying it too much to consider sharing it later. Also, they may be worried about the feelings of the vacationing parent too much to discuss wanting to share with the non-vacationing parent.
Regardless of the reason, the vacationing parent is responsible for making sure these important events are properly captured. The pictures and videos already being taken while on vacation is a great start and already being done, but don’t stop there. Take notes on your phone or journal any funny, sweet, stand-out moments and other daily highlights. Another option is to simply ask children some questions about the day’s events and note their reply. You could ask things such as their favorite part of the day, what they learned, what are they most anticipating for tomorrow’s activities. These are a great start and great information to share with the non-traveling parent.
Also, a simple internet search will turn up many fantastic apps that are perfect for chronicling your vacations. Great tools for sharing information with the other parent and providing memories to look back on later.
Co-parenting relationships are inherently flawed and not all parents will commit to extraneous efforts such as the ones delineated above. This can make it challenging to go through the extra effort when it feels like the effort is not returned. But it is imperative to keep in mind that these extra efforts are not just for the benefit of the non-traveling parent. The children benefit just as much, if not more, by going above and beyond to strengthen the family ties.
While the co-parent may be the furthest thing from your mind when planning a vacation, that's likely not the case for the children. Keeping kids connected with co-parent during vacation can strengthen the overall family bond by doing everything feasible to share the memories and experiences garnered on vacations, trips, and getaways.