Saturday, July 5, 2014

Published 9:30 AM by Alexis Dobbins with 4 comments

Co-parenting on vacation together? It is possible.

Unmarried, Two Beds, One Vacation

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.

Was Charles Dickens talking about life in 19th-century England or was he talking about summertime and single parents?

For single parents, summer means finding camps, planning affordable vacations, and replacing clothes that fit last year but are now too small or marked unwearable because they are, "like, weak". When my children were younger, summer meant that the 9-to-3 cushion of school was gone and I had to schedule every minute of every day. Largely, by myself.

But that open schedule was also a benefit - I just had to change my perspective.

I could look at the summer break as a series of hours that I had to figure out how to fill, or I could see those days as an opportunity to include Dad in our vacation and give the little guys the benefit of having fun with two parents at the same time. Vacationing together also allows each parent to breathe at some point during the day, if necessary, while providing the ultimate family experience.

Yes, We Rise| Co-parenting on vacation together? It is possible

But how do you do that when your relationship is usually focused on "where is the child support check," "did you pick little Willie/Wanda up from school", and "when exactly is the next check coming?"

First, let’s look at an app that helps parents communicate – well, actually, it doesn’t really improve communication but it allows folks to see what’s going on when communication gets tight.


2Houses is a unique app designed to "facilitate separated parents lives", according to their site. Modules include a Calendar, Journal, Information Bank, Notifications, Messages and the dreaded Finances. With 2Houses, parents can quickly determine who is available for what activity during the summer - try it out while the stakes are not as high as during the school year - and if communication gets a little tight, you can use the app as a calm voice of reason.

One of my favorite modules is the Journal, which allows parents to share private info without having to use the standard public social media platforms. Grades, videos of dance recitals or soccer games, all the events and data that's too personal for Facebook or Instagram but should be available so the other parent can stay informed can be placed in the Journal. Another favorite is the Finance module. Rather than take the "you owe me and it’s late" approach, 2Houses allows users to log in and list specific expenses, payments, and payment confirmation. Parents can handle financial matters in a chaos-free environment, talk if they want or type if they don't, and take some of the edge off the money matters.

Now that you have a better idea of who is available when, what’s next for the positive-thinking unmarried parents this summer?

Shared Vacationing

Whether you start with 2Houses or you talk it through, summer is a perfect time for both Mom and Dad to vacation together with the kids. There is often enough flexibility for both parents to schedule a few days or maybe a week to spend time as a family; as a former teacher, please know that children distinguish between the vacation with Mom and the two-parent family vacation. (Another time, we’ll talk about the coded language children use for family structure but for now, trust and believe that who lives where with whom is duly noted and discussed).

How do you vacation as a family when you don’t live as a family?

Choose lodging that allows two adults to parent together while sleeping apart. Check out the following chains where two sleeping areas are standard:

The Hyatt House

Embassy Suites

LaQuinta Inns & Suites

If these chains aren’t available, get busy on Google with Expedia, Orbitz or call a travel agent.

Going to the beach? That’s perfect. Rent a house with that extra bedroom you’ll need. It’s easy to locate vacation rentals, but here are some of my favorites:

Nags Head/Duck/Corolla, NC

Deep Creek, MD

Martha’s Vineyards, MA

Treasure Beach, Jamaica

If you’re going to a resort destination like Disneyworld, Disney Cruises, or Sesame Place/Philly, let them know that you’ll be traveling together but will need to sleep separately. It’s done all the time. If all else fails, get adjoining rooms and set hours when the shared door will be open and when it will be closed (you know, like black folks have been doing for years).

Not possible for you? Not a problem. Take a vacation with the people who are family to you, whether that includes grandparents, aunt, uncles, cousins, godparents, or just some really good “like family” friends. Bottom line, you have multiple options when it comes to vacationing together as a family.

One of the purposes of a shared vacation is to demonstrate that although the parents may not live together, the child is part of a family unit that is healthy enough to spend time together and have a good time doing it.

Remember…look for the good in every situation! #seegoodseeGod


  1. Marcus SmallwoodJuly 5, 2014 at 11:12 AM

    It takes a village. Great options and I am going to propose this app and see how it goes.

  2. Marcus SmallwoodJuly 5, 2014 at 12:54 PM

    Yes those middle school years are difficult to get through. 14 and 15 yr olds may be eligible for upward bound programs as well. Every year I say I am going to start searching earlier.

  3. I think this is a minefield waiting to happen for all involved and instead of a vacation it becomes more like a tightrope. And this is coming from someone involved in a very calm/respectful/civil co-parenting situation. The kid may get confused , ambivalence on all sides etc So personally I'd still pass. I need my vacation to be carefree. I also dont see where the kid NEEDS both parents to vacation together. This isn't a birthday, funeral or graduation.

  4. I believe in divorcing amicably. A family isn't broken or dead when parents divorce. It basically means we can't live together, but we can still be cool. I vacation with my ex and our three kids. Couldn't do it without him.