With the Christmas holidays an (almost) distant memory and the Easter holidays fast approaching, the logistics of sharing children over special holidays and on special days like birthdays may be a hot topic in your household, particularly after a separation or divorce.
Here are a few tips to help you prepare for co-parenting for future special days:
MAKE A PLAN
Special holidays like Christmas, Easter and birthdays are magical times and the thought of celebrating
without your kids for the day (or part of it) is difficult. Sitting down with your ex-partner and mapping out
an agreed parenting plan for sharing the kids on special days is an ideal option. Collaboratively planning out events, meals, gifts, and changeovers, whilst not always easy, can be hugely helpful and will help to reduce miscommunication, disagreement and hurt feelings. Communicating the agreed plan to your children and to the extended family is also a great idea so that everyone is in the know from the get-go.
You may choose to prepare a parenting plan for just one occasion (i.e. Christmas), or take the opportunity to map out a plan for all the special days in the year. Your individual circumstances will guide the process for you.
Shared holidays, particularly if it’s the first year after a separation or divorce, will be a new thing for your kids and will require adjustment. As a result, your kids may have different needs that will need to considered, some of which are very important to them, like how the Easter Bunny will know where to deliver the chocolate eggs on Easter Sunday. Making sure you and your ex are on the same page with your answers will quickly nip any uncertainty in the bud. If your children are a little older, you may consider asking them how they’d prefer to spend their holidays, and then try to use this feedback to guide the planning process.
TALK IT THROUGH
Being such a special time for families, it’s no surprise that Christmas, Easter and birthday's also come with heightened emotions. Open, respectful communication is critical to successfully preparing a plan for special days. If you and your ex-partner are on good terms, sitting down together and discussing options is a great start. If the relationship is a little strained, you may consider communicating in writing (i.e. email) so that your expectations and needs can be carefully documented for consideration. For some couples, the use of a qualified mediator is a great option to help guide the planning process and design a parenting plan that works for all parties.
Accredited mediators will facilitate discussion so that you and your ex-partner can find a solution that works for you both. Mediation is flexible in that you don’t have to be in the same room with your ex-partner to prepare a parenting plan. It is the perfect option for parties who’d prefer to keep matters out of the courts. On the special day itself, you may also like to use Facetime or other videocall options to help your children connect with their other parent and share their experiences with extended family.
And although Christmas seems like a long way off now, its always best to open up lines of communication early and start nutting out a plan together.
ACCEPT THAT THINGS ARE DIFFERENT AND THAT ’S OKAY
For many of us, the holidays and special days are all about the traditions and the emotional connections that we form with them. As a result of your separation, you will have experienced a whole lot of emotions. The same emotions will also apply to special days. If you can recreate old traditions, then go for it, but if that’s no longer possible, you now have an opportunity to create new ones, which over time, will be just as special.
BE KIND T O YOURSELF
Spending special days away from your kids is tough. On these days, you need to be extra kind to yourself and prepare for some raw emotions to creep in. It’s helpful to have the supports you need to help you through the day. Maybe that’s surrounding yourself with family or friends. Maybe it’s planning out a day to nurture yourself. Or maybe you can use the time to give back to others in the community. Whatever you choose to do, make sure it’s good for your soul.
NOT SURE WHERE TO START?
We know that these tips all sound great in theory, but the practicality of getting a plan together may seem a little daunting. The good news is that our accredited mediators Stacey and Ange are able to draft a parenting plan for you, making the process a whole lot easier.
Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 6742 2122 to make an appointment today.