Single Parent's Guide To Summer Vacation - Part 2

Do Day Trips
If you don't have the time or the money for a vacation trip, consider a series of day trips to break up the routine. The options are almost unlimited. Beaches, lakes, ponds, zoos, amusement parks, museums, a circus, or dozens of other options. Just keep your eyes open, look around, and use your imagination! Discount kiddie shows at the local movie theater, concerts in the park hosted by your local Parks and Recreation department, or story time and activities hour at your local library are all good options to look into when seeking activities to do with your kids.

Sometimes even a trip to town to prowl some thrift shops and eat a special snack can be a memorable occasion. If you're spending most of your days working (and who isn't these days), your kids probably crave time with you more than anything else in the world. If you can take an occasional break from your routine to do even small things with them, just being together without pressure will make the day special.

When There Is No Trip: Taking Care of the Kids on Vacation
If you've planned your vacation well, you probably have a whole set of activities lined up to keep your kids occupied while you're at work. If only it were as easy as shipping the kids off to their various activities for the day and then heading out! It's not that easy, of course. Most activities don't last the entire day, so you will need to provide some form of supervision and transportation for your kiddos while you're away from home. Hiring a babysitter is an obvious choice, but you should be sure it is someone you trust who has some experience working with children. Older teens and college students majoring in Early Childhood Education are good options for sitters. Interview carefully and be sure to lay out clear expectations before hiring anyone. Once you have a sitter selected, be sure to sit down together with the kids to set ground rules and expectations for summer fun.

If hiring a sitter is out of your budget, consider doing a parent-to-parent swap with a friend who has kids around the same age as yours, or with the parents of your kids' close friends. You can use some of your vacation time to take your friend's kids for a week or so, and vice versa.

Involve the Ex
If your children spend most of their time living with you, the summer months are a good time for them to stay with their non-primary custodial parent. If your kids are planning to stay with their non-primary caregiver over the summer months, don't make it a power struggle or make them feel guilty. If your former partner makes plans for your children that they will enjoy, there's no need to turn those plans into an issue. It's not a challenge to your place in their lives; it's just a fun break for the kids and a chance for you to relax and take some time for yourself. If your ex wants to take the kids on vacation or has the means to provide fun opportunities for them, allow them to participate and have fun. Children experience a lot of stress over the breakup of their parents' relationship, so don't make things any harder than they have to be. Don't throw a fit if your ex's summer plans interfere with your “me time” with the kids; remember, children only get to be young once, and the summer should be theirs to enjoy.

Preparing for Vacation without the Kids
If your kids are spending part of the summer with your ex, you might find yourself in the unusual position of having an empty nest for a while. Take this opportunity to relax and do things you enjoy that you wouldn't otherwise be able to do with the little ones around. Take a trip to the beach with a friend, go to a concert, or kick back with your friends and enjoy some margaritas. There's no reason why you shouldn't enjoy summer vacation too!