Summer Vacation with Financial Challenges

23 September 2013

Summer is here and in full swing. For both divorced families and single parents alike, managing the summer vacation routine can be tougher than the school year routine. Not only that, but there are financial implications that come along with summer vacation as well.

Summer vacation can be particularly stressful on your pocket book. The children living with you is a great thing, but having them live with you at half the income can be particularly challenging. That means challenges with day-to-day living during the summer.

Don't make planning summer holidays more stressful, particularly on your bank account. Summer vacation with your children should be the highlight of the year. The prospect of heading to the lake or mountains to enjoy the scenery should bring about joy, not stress. Anything that can be done to break away from the routine is welcome.

Summer Vacation Means Spending Money You Don’t Have

For some, the prospect of summer vacation is daunting and means spending money that simply is not there. No parent wants to have to deny their children a summer holiday. However, that doesn't have to facilitate the need to deliver memorable results without lurching further into debt.

The very last thing any parent wants to do is increase credit card balances or even take out a loan to cover the costs of those vacations. Yes, you want to deliver a memorable summer experience, but at what cost?

While we would all love to stay at five-star hotels, tapering expectations is a great way to start. Remember, the fun is outside of the room. Of course, housekeeping and fancy amenities are great, but there is more to the experience than just that!

The key to summer vacation is creating lasting memories. The most memorable times we share can often times be simple in nature. It is the emotional connections which drive those memories. That is why it is important for each parent to honour the financial limitations of the other.

Creating a financial gap will not only hurt your ex, but it will create a major discrepancy in the experiences that your children have with each of you.

Fun Holiday Options to Consider

  • Camping. There is nothing like campfire conversation under an evening of stars, plus learning to cook over a fire certainly creates lots of interesting challenges and dialog.
  • Renting a pool for the back yard for a week and creating a summer vacation at home. Make sure you have a plan for each day so that household chores do not distract you.
  • Volunteer as a family either in your hometown or in some other city or country. Perhaps helping a family build a home can certainly puts things into perspective with regards to the haves and have not’s.
  • Plan on going to see family. Perhaps the ex did not want to or did not get along with your family but maybe it is time for new beginnings in this regard.
  • If you have a favourite place you love to go but you can no longer afford it — then consider still going but for less time. Memories do not need to take a week to get — perhaps a few days are good.
  • Consider a fishing trip or a horseback-riding trip. There is nothing like connecting to nature to make us feel grounded, fortunate and blessed.
  • Ensure your mediator prepares a comprehensive parenting plan so that vacation times do not need to be readdressed and bartered each year. Find a timeline that works for you at the beginning and stick to it. If this is something that was overlooked in your parenting plan you can meet with a Parenting Facilitator to renegotiate.
  • Include in your parenting plan details around the kids contacting their other parent while away. (ie: how often, what times and via text, Skype, phone etc.) This may seem unimportant right now but having these small measures in place could save your vacation.
  • Be creative, make the best of what you can afford.

Summer Vacation is all in the Planning

There is a saying and it really encapsulates creating a smooth summer with the kids. “Fail to plan, plan to fail.” There is no question that co-parenting adds a level of complexity and stress to the planning. If you take the time to map out the summer months in advance, the reward will be well worth it. The irony is that planning meticulously actually allows you to live more freely and spontaneously in the moment.

Children are very flexible and will be empowered in almost every situation, as long as the parents are positive and mutually supportive, even when conflicted. Most importantly, parents should not allow their personal agenda or issues to impact the children. Keep your bad news to yourself and share the good news about the summer plans and most importantly, have fun!