Divorced or Separated and Co-Parenting During the Holidays: How to Make it Work
School holidays can be a difficult time for divorced or separated parents who are co-parenting. Children are out of school for extended periods of time, and there may be pressure to create memorable holiday experiences for them. Co-parenting during the holidays can be stressful, but with careful planning, it is possible to make it work. In this article, we will provide practical suggestions for contact patterns, communication, and how to handle handovers during school holiday times, including Christmas, Easter, the summer holidays, and half terms.
Co-parents need to agree on a contact pattern that works for everyone involved, taking into account the children's best interests. It is important to be flexible and willing to compromise to ensure that both parents have quality time with their children during the school holidays.
For the shorter school holidays, one option is to alternate the holidays each year. For example, one parent could have the children for the Christmas holidays, while the other parent could have them for the Easter holidays. This ensures that both parents have equal time with their children during the school holidays. This may not be practical, or desirable in some cases, as co-parents may feel that they are going for too long without seeing their children.
Another option is to divide school holidays in half. For example, one parent could have the children for the first half of the summer holidays, while the other parent could have them for the second half. This allows both parents to have an opportunity to spend quality time with their children. In other cases, because of working patterns it may be necessary to keep to the normal pattern of contact running and each parent simply have the children for a week or two each, when the normal pattern suspends.
It is important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for co-parenting during school holidays. The key is to find a contact pattern that works for everyone involved and to communicate openly and honestly about expectations.
Effective communication is essential for successful co-parenting during school holidays. Both parents should communicate early and often to ensure that everyone is on the same page. This includes discussing holiday plans, schedules, and any changes that may arise. This may also include communicating any wishes to take the children away from their usual residences and even abroad. One effective communication tool is to use a shared calendar. This allows both parents to see the holiday schedule and any important dates, such as birthdays or family events. A shared calendar can also help prevent scheduling conflicts and ensure that both parents have equal time with their children. A shared calendar can also be a good place to provide details of flight numbers, accommodation and even emergency contacts.
It is also important to establish boundaries when it comes to communication. Parents should agree on the best way to communicate, whether that is via email, text message, or phone call. It is important to keep communication polite and focused on the children's needs. Both parents need to be comfortable with the chosen method of communication and responses to one another need to be timely so that trust can be built.
Handovers can be a source of stress and tension for co-parents. It is important to handle handovers with care and respect to ensure that the children feel safe and secure.
One effective strategy is to choose a neutral location for handovers. This could be a local park or a public area. A neutral location can help reduce tension and provide a more relaxed atmosphere for handovers.
It is also important to establish a routine for handovers. This is true of arrangements during term times and is equally valid during holiday times. A routine can help children feel more comfortable and secure during the handover process. Try to communicate to the children what the arrangements are going to be in advance so that they can prepare for handovers and so that they know what to expect.
Parents should avoid using handovers as an opportunity to discuss unresolved issues. Handovers should be focused on the children and their needs, not on the parents' personal conflicts.
Creating a Positive Holiday Experience
Co-parenting during school holidays can be a challenging experience, but it is important to create positive memories for the children. There are several ways to create positive holiday experiences for children, including:
- Establishing traditions: Co-parents can work together to establish new traditions that are meaningful for the children. Just because activities are enjoyed separately, they should still be celebrated and talked about with the children. How about creating an Annual Easter Egg Hunt around the garden at Easter, or visiting your favourite campsite during a summer holiday?
- Maintaining routines: Children thrive on routine, and it is important to maintain regular schedules during the school holidays. This could include regular meal times, bedtimes, and exercise routines. This does not mean that routines need to be the same as term times. Bed times may be later as a special treat for instance. However, it is important that there is a sense of consistency within the holidays too.
- Encouraging open communication: Children may feel conflicted or confused during school holidays, and it is important to encourage them to express their feelings openly. Both parents should create a safe space for the children to talk about their thoughts and feelings.
- Including both sides of the family: Co-parents should work together to ensure that the children have the opportunity to spend time with both sides of the family. This could include coordinating visits with grandparents or extended family members.
- Focusing on the present moment: School holidays can be a time of reflection and nostalgia, remembering what they used to be like. Rather than dwell on the past, it is important to focus on the present moment and create new memories with the children.
Co-parenting during school holidays can be a challenging experience, but with careful planning, effective communication, and a focus on the children's best interests, it is possible to make it work.
Co-parents should work together to establish a contact pattern that works for everyone involved, communicate openly and honestly about expectations, handle handovers with care and respect, and create positive holiday experiences for the children.
As family law solicitors, we understand the complexities of co-parenting during school holidays. If you are struggling to establish a co-parenting plan for the school holidays or if you need legal advice regarding your co-parenting arrangements, please contact us on 0333 920 5911 and talk to one of our team who can help you navigate the legal complexities of co-parenting.
Our family law experts can provide advice on all aspects of divorce, separation and co-parenting. For further information about how we might be able to help you, please click here: https://www.familylawconsultants.co.uk and use the call back request form on the right hand side of this page to request a call from us.
Written by Joanne Bennett