How to plan summer without your children

Last time on the blog we looked at how to get organised for summer; how make sure you know what the arrangements for your children are and that you’re both happy with them. In How to plan summer without your children, we take the next step and look at how you will handle summer on your own.

Feel the feelings

Once you know the barebones of the summer holiday arrangements it’s time to plan. The thought of being without your children for a week or two might flood you with all sorts of competing emotions:

  • Sadness you’ll not be with them on their adventures
  • Relief you’ll get a bit of a breather and can get space to yourself for once
  • Fear they’ll prefer being with your soon-to-be-ex-husband rather than you
  • Jealousy your soon-to-be-ex-husband is giving them a fancy trip that you can’t afford
  • Guilt you’re feeling jealous that the children will be having a good time away from you
  • Grief for family holidays past, or perhaps the picture perfect holiday of your imagination that never came to pass
  • Excitement that you’ll get the chance to have your own child-free adventures

Your feelings might contradict each other. You might feel everything all at once, or have good days followed by bad.   It’s all normal. It doesn’t mean that you’re going crazy or you’re a bad mum. Don’t push back against what you’re feeling – let all those emotions come up for air. They are all valid – they’re all part of you and your response to a difficult situation.   Being away from your children is usually hardest the first time but it’s likely you’re always going to feel some sadness. Let it happen and reach out to friends who will have your back.  

Focus on your children

Remember that any summer holiday arrangements are about looking after your children’s needs. Whatever you feel about being apart from them, help them prepare positively for their time with their father.   If they’re going overseas, help them pick out appropriate holiday wear, and maybe learn a few holiday phrases with a free app such as Duo Lingo. This way you can share some of the experience with them, and you’ll also be reassuring them that you’re happy for them and importantly, it’s ok for them to be excited and enjoy themselves.  

Wherever they’re off to look together at a map to see where they’re going, and support them as they get excited about it all, and reassure them if they feel nervous or scared.    Make sure you and your soon-to-be-ex-husband are clear about whether you’ll have any contact with the children while they’re away. Will they text, phone, or write you a postcard? Discussing this can help your children feel more settled if they’re not used to spending time away from you.  

Plan your own special time with your children together too. It doesn’t have to be a fancy holiday – camping in the garden (or under the dining table if the weather’s dreadful!) can create magical memories. Remember, when your children are grown, they’ll remember how they felt just as much as what they did. Whilst it’s easy to get sucked into the belief that our children will love us more if we shower them with expensive gifts and experiences, it’s simply not true.  

Focus on you

Even if it doesn’t feel like it, the time your children are away is an opportunity for you to take care of you. How are you going to spend your time?   Being a single parent is hard work, so make sure you build in some time for self care. Self care isn’t all about spa days and bubble baths – it can also look mean you:

  • Prepare and eat nutritious food you enjoy but that the children won’t touch with a barge pole
  • Finally sort out that cupboard or big pile of boxes in the corner (note I’m not suggesting you spend all your time alone doing housework! But if something’s been bugging you, now’s a good time to sort it without distraction)
  • Get stuck into a pile of books you’ve been meaning to read forever
  • Look into fulfilling work – often women want or need to make career changes after a split, but finding the headspace to do this while children are around can be challenging.

And of course, plan some treats for you too. Finances might dictate what you do, but even on a limited budget you can get together with friends and unwind properly. If you can afford to take yourself off on holiday – do it, guilt-free. Did you had holidays alone during your marriage? If you did, you might be asking for a budget for this on divorce, many of my clients do.  

If How to plan summer without your children has made you realise you’d like some support as you adapt to summers apart from your children, just get in touch. I’m here for you – together we can work out strategies to keep communication on track with your soon-to-be-ex-husband and get you in the right mindset to make the most of your summer. Book a call with me here

The Divorce Alchemist

Emma Heptonstall, the Divorce Alchemist is author of the Amazon best selling book How to be a Lady Who Leaves, the Ultimate Guide to Getting Divorce Ready. A former lawyer, Emma is a practising family mediator and founder of Get Divorce Ready the online self study and group programmes. Emma has been featured on BBC Radio, The Telegraph, the iPaper and in Marie Claire Magazine. To find out more visit www.emmaheptonstall.com

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