Keeping Summer Vacation Fun in a Divorced Family

photo courtesy of federico stevanin

Kids wait all year for summer vacation.  But when parents are divorced or separated, summer vacation becomes more complicated.  Kids look forward to long days with their friends doing nothing.  When they have a parenting schedule to live with, summer loses some of its fun.  Your child needs to spend time with both parents – that’s a given.  So how do you keep the parenting schedule from messing up your child’s summer dreams?

Plan around it. If you and your child dream of lazy days at the beach or crazy afternoons at an amusement park, plan your family’s schedule around the parenting schedule.  Try to work, clean the house, or do volunteer work while your child is with the other parent.  Save the big events for days when your child is with you.  If you have children and step children with conflicting schedules, talk with both sets of parents and look for a way to make adjustments so that you can all have family time together once in a while.

Welcome friends. One of the biggest concerns kids have about schedule is not being able to see their friends.  Make it clear friends are welcome at your home anytime.  If you’re the non-custodial parent, go the extra step and offer to drive the friends (who probably live near your child’s other home) to your home.

Make other plans. Whether you’re the custodial or non-custodial parent, it’s impossible to be with your child the entire time he or she is at your house.  Look for alternatives that will keep your child happy and occupied while you’re busy.  Look for a class or day camp that ties into his or her interests – zoo camp, art camp, soccer camp – the choices are huge.  Planning this activity will give your child something to do and will ease any guilt you might feel (you shouldn’t!) about not being completely available.

Think of yourself. Be sure to plan some adult fun for the days your child is away.  You’re supposed to enjoy the summer too and those days on your own are the perfect times to explore new places, meet people, and expand your own horizons.

Remember what it’s like to be a kid. There were plenty of times when your idea of a good time was sleeping till noon, spending 4 hours in front of the tv, or plugging yourself into a video game.  The same probably holds true for your child.  Let him or her have time to just veg.  You don’t need to plan excursions and events every time your child is at your home.  Let there be time for just being a kid.

Relax. Stop pressuring yourself to create the perfect summer for your child.  If you look back you probably will find that your favorite summer memories are of small, everyday things.  You’re not a cruise director; you’re a parent.  There’s a lot to be said for quiet dinners on the porch, picnics in the backyard, ice cream cones on a hot night, and fun in the sprinkler together.

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Teachable Lessons from Divorce

Photo credit: Rawich

You might have a number of flippant answers to the question “What lessons has divorce allowed you to teach your kids?”  “Men/women are creeps,” “Don’t get married,” or “Hire the most expensive attorney” might be off-the-cuff things that come to you if you’re trying to be funny, but the fact is divorce has probably provided a lot of teachable moments you can share with your kids.

  • You can love someone without being in love with them. If you have a reasonable relationship with your ex, this is an important message to share with your kids, who might find it confusing that you are able to be friendly together. It’s also an important distinction for kids to learn to make as they date and form relationships as adults.
  • Never give up on happiness. Many people find it is easy to sort of float along in an unhappy marriage until an event forces them to take action and then they realize they should have made a change a long time ago. It’s really important for your kids to know that they should create a life that brings them happiness and any situation they find themselves in that impairs happiness is something to consider changing. Don’t settle for less than you deserve is another way to put this.
  • The worst times always pass. This is a hard lesson for kids to learn because when they’re in the middle of something they see as just awful (a fight with a best friend, being grounded, or losing the championship) they often aren’t able to look past their momentary situation. Remind your kids that things always do get better and tomorrow is another day. Setbacks are never permanent.
  • You can survive almost anything that comes your way. Your divorce likely taught you resilience. It’s definitely an attribute that we gain as we age and work our way through life’s ups and downs, making it something tough for a kid to come by. However, simply telling your child that he really can get through even the hardest things will show him you have confidence in his inner strength and someday he’ll come to believe it too.
  • Life is all about change. Again, that’s hard to understand if you’re eight, or even sixteen, but helping your child see life as a series of changes and new experiences can help her be more open to the twists and turns she will face. It’s important to emphasize that each change you’ve faced has had up and down sides, but that you’ve tried to focus on the good aspects whenever possible.
  • Love is worth trying for. Some teens who have divorced parents act very jaded about relationships and profess that they don’t believe in love or marriage and there’s no point in trying. Even though your marriage ended, it’s important to tell your child you still believe in love and want him or her to find it someday.
  • Respect is the most important thing when dealing with other people. Even if you and your ex don’t always get along, if you’ve tried to be civil to each other, you’re showing your child that we owe respect to all the people we deal with, no matter what our disagreements or differences are.
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What to Do with the Diamonds?

photo credit: Graeme Weatherston

If you’ve recently separated or divorced, you’ve probably taken off your wedding rings. You might also have some other jewelry items your spouse gave you that you no longer wish to wear.  But what should you do with them? There are a surprising number of great options that will allow you to get those rings out of your jewelry box and off your mind.

Save for the Kids

Some women choose to save their jewelry for their children or grandchildren.  A family heirloom can have a lot of emotional value in later generations. And resetting a family diamond for an engagement ring can save your kids big bucks. If you decide to hang on to your jewelry for family, store it out of sight in a safety deposit box or in a box in your file cabinet.

Restyle for Yourself

You can have gemstones reset to make pendants, earrings, new rings, or other pieces of jewelry. Giving an old gem new life can help you feel as if you’ve taken concrete steps to retool your own life.

Get Cash

Gold can be sold to local jewelers for good prices. There are also some sites that specialize in helping you turn your wedding jewelry into dollars. IDoNowIDont.com, Ex-cessories.com, and ExBoyfriendJewelry.com allow users to sell their jewelry – and even vent a bit. The cash can be used to pay divorce costs, help you afford a new home, or buy a few decadent things just for you.

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