Roughly one quarter of British families are single parent families nowadays, dealing with the day-to-day challenges of raising children alone. While any time of year can bring with it many complications for families in this situation, a key time for conflict can often be the lead up to the long school summer holidays. Financial pressures, child care concerns and the desire to keep things fair and equitable can often cause emotions to run high. Here are some areas to think about now, to ensure a smoother summer holiday period.
Get organised now
Summer is really not that far away now, so it is time to start making plans. Get the diary out and work out the best way for everyone to communicate and work out who is doing what, where and when. Make sure there are no clashes over holiday bookings or activities. Work out who is going to pay for what, and who is going to make the arrangements. Are all of your passports up to date? What about travel insurance? This is the perfect time to check.
Involve the kids
All too often, children can become passive spectators when their separated parents get together to discuss arrangements for the holidays. Depending upon their age, try and get them involved in the planning and decisions, so that they can have a say in where they go and can enjoy the anticipation of some fun times ahead. Older children may also have additional commitments to add into the mix, such as exam revision, summer schools or day camps, pre-agreed meet-ups with friends etc.
If you or your ex-partner are planning to take the children on holiday in the UK, there is much less admin to worry about than if you were going abroad. However, there still needs to be plenty of planning and mutual agreements made before the trip can go ahead. Will your child need any specialist clothing or equipment, for example for an activity type of holiday? Who will order and pay for that? Will your child be visiting extended members of your ex-partner’s family and are you alright with that happening? Do you need to pay for flights or accommodation or provide your child with spending money?
If there are plans being made by either party to take your child abroad, the points above all apply. However, added to that is the requirement to make sure passports are up to date, relevant visas are in place and any inoculations sorted out in time. Make sure everyone has got each other’s contact details in the case of an emergency or if your child simply wants to call home while they are away. You can also help your child prepare for their trip by helping them learn a few words of any foreign languages they will encounter or doing some research with them into local landmarks or attractions.
Whatever you might be feeling personally about the forthcoming holiday arrangements, try to remain positive and excited in front of your child. Wait for an appropriate time when they are not with you to discuss any safety concerns you may have with the adults taking them on the trip or overseeing activities closer to home. Your child deserves to get to know both sides of their extended family, so long as there are no welfare concerns around them doing so. Allowing them to do so without feeling guilty or worried about upsetting you will help them form family bonds that will last into adulthood. Not to mention give them a summer holiday to remember.
Finally, if anyone feels unable to plan the summer holidays amicably with an ex-partner, they can always call on the services of a mediator or solicitor to help navigate the way towards a mutually acceptable plan. Involving an unbiased third party can often diffuse an otherwise difficult and highly charged situation.