4 Tips to Avoid the Summer Divorce Schedule Blues

Lions! Tigers and Bears! Oh my, It's the Summer Season!
Lions! Tigers and Bears! Oh my, It’s the Summer Season!

Oh, boy!  The school year is ending and for many of us it means that the children’s schedules are changing.  We may have the kids for half the summer or camp schedules are starting.  First tip is to remember that every time there is a change, even if it is minor, it will get exaggerated in a divorced family.  Why?  It triggers feelings of uncertainty.  The schedule has changed and we just don’t feel safe.  Our thoughts may go something like this:

* “I just know that she’ll mess with the schedule and ruin our vacation plans.”

* “I just dread taking all the kids on vacation.  It may be a vacation for everyone else, but not me.”

* “Does the ex ever pay for any of these extra activities? She feels so entitled.”

A trigger is just that…a trigger.  It means that we have associated fear and anxiety with something. When the summer schedule changes, our flight or fight mechanism believes that we are at risk because of the thoughts associated with the summer. The fact is that we will all survive the summer and have fun while we are doing it.  Here are 3 tips to avoid those summer divorce schedule blues.

  1. Clear Agreements
    There is nothing worse than a fuzzy schedule for the kids. This is a sure way to get your wires crossed with your ex and have your plans ruined.  Be sure all agreements are in writing as well as having a confirmation meeting to review the details: pick up times, drop off times, any written permissions you may need from the other parent and a general idea of where everyone is going.
  2. Talk to Yourself
    As soon as you start to feel anxious, talk to yourself. Say something like this, “You are fine. Nothing is scary and everyone means well. I wish myself, the kids, their Mom and everyone well. We are all good.”  Breathe.  If you like to exercise, do it. If you like to write, journal your thoughts. These techniques trick the brain into calming down.
  3. Fight the Urge to be the Only Vacation Organizer
    For those of us that like to control everything, fight the urge to be the only vacation organizer. By taking on this role, be cognizant that you will add to your frustration. You will be looking for everyone’s approval.  If a plan goes wrong, your upset will be heightened. You will be looking for acknowledgement which is a road that will lead to disappointment and resentment.  Divide the vacation planning duties among the adults that are going along.
  4. 3. Try to Get Adult Time
    Know thyself. If you know that you are a person that needs quiet time, schedule it as a vacation activity. Let someone else take the kids and take your nap or walk.  This activity is just as valuable as the visit to Seaworld or the beach time.  If possible, get a babysitter for a night or two.
  5. Communicate with the Other Parent
    Be sure the kids are keeping in contact with the other parent. Let them know that they are safe. Do not let Facebook do this communication for them.  Using social media can be a passive aggressive communication tool when you are divorced.  Be up front and clear.  Let the other parent know the time when you are on your way home.  Treat them the way you would want to be treated.

Your attitude can make the summer schedule miserable or fun.  Go into it organized with activities and with the approach that it will be an adventure.  Give everyone a break with the knowledge that the initial transition days will pass.  You will survive with flying colors.

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