It's holiday planning time again - should the ex and the kids come too?

Holidays have always been a special time, that's what they are for.  A chance to escape the realities of the world and unwind like a ball of string.  In your new life after divorce you need the same thing, only more so.

They can also be the stuff of dreams, providing fond memories for the rest of your life.  Now, it has to be said, for some people holidays are more the stuff of nightmares and any thought of a post divorce holiday with your ex could not be further from your mind. 

couple with kids on beachThe celebs all seem to be at it!
However, there appears to be an increase in fractured post divorce families reconstituting themselves at holiday time for the sake of the kids.  Apparently divorced celebs are doing it all the time.

Bruce Willis and the delightful Demi Moore have holidayed with their three daughters and the redoubtable Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post has shared a holiday with her ex and three teenage daughters with great success.

Looking before leaping
As we all know there is often one rule for the celebs and one rule for the plebs.  So the best advice is not to leap into this, however, it might just be worth checking out.  I guess that this is only really going to work if neither of you have another partner.  Leaving your new partner for a holiday with your ex and the kids does not appear at first glance to be a winning proposition.  However, if your new partner does the same with his/her former partner then maybe this might just be a great idea.

Pause for further thought
Stopping at this point for a more in depth analysis reveals a number of elephant traps between here and the best holiday of your life after divorce.  Before we look at the traps let's look at the advantages to you, your ex partner and your children.

The good points
It's going to be cheaper and easier to organise than separate holidays.
You will give your kids a sense of continuity and an understanding that all has not totally changed.
You will let your kids know that despite the divorce you can behave in a civilised fashion and keep your differences under control.
If holidays together have been good in the past then it will be easy to slip back into the relaxed holiday atmosphere

The elephant traps
These are many, varied and often very deep.  It is absolutely vital to talk about this a lot with your ex partner.  Meticulous planning and coordination will help avoid surprises and misinterpretations.  Everything needs to be discussed and agreed beforehand.  Here are the highlights:

Same hotel or different hotels?
Same room or different rooms?
Same bed (no, please don't go there!)?
Are you going to spend all the time together or will there sometimes be separate activities?
How are the costs to be shared?
Who is going to tell the children and explain how it's all going to work

The biggest elephant trap of all
Misinterpretation.  Everyone (especially the children) on this adventure must share a common understanding of what is expected to happen and how life will return to 'normal' after the holiday.  This may be easier than it may appear. 

Beware deep emotional expectations and soft Mediterranean nights   
Children almost always want their parents to get back together again.  Despite you and their other parent saying this is not going to happen, they may well still harbour expectations of a return to life before divorce.  In most divorces one of the couple wanted to stay married, combine this with the fact that about a third of people who divorce regret the decision within five years, then expectations of a holiday reconciliation can be high.

The soft breeze of a Mediterranean night laden with the scent of rosemary and thyme, the sound of cicadas and a few glasses of Rioja/Retsina can reverse the best of intentions.  On balance I wouldn't do it, unless it is a barely disguised mutual attempt to get back together again.  Then go for it and good luck!

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