Whether you’re in the middle of a break up or negotiating life after divorce, dealing with children’s arrangements during the summer holidays can be tricky – particularly if communication is difficult between you and your ex.
Organising childcare, juggling work, and entertaining bored kids is hard enough on its own, without having to walk the delicate tightrope of co-parenting. Points of contention are more likely to flare up when you’re thrown out of your normal routine, and the pressure of finding a way to sharing the holidays fairly and effectively can take its toll. However, by thinking ahead, making a practical (yet flexible) plan, and being prepared to compromise, it’s possible to divide up the holidays with your ex without exacerbating existing disagreements.
To reduce stress this summer, the family law experts at Frances Lindsay & Co have put together a few tips to help you balance your work, family, and social life, while minimising the impact of separation on your children.
Prioritise and organise
Before the kids break up from school, put together a clear outline of your working commitments and see how much time each of you can take off during the summer. If you need to organise additional childcare, try to split the cost evenly wherever possible. And when it comes to dividing up time with your children, try to work together with your ex to find a plan that works for both of you, while prioritising quality time with your kids. Knowing when and how long you each have with your children will allow you to plan ahead and avoid miscommunication and disagreements down the line.
Be prepared to compromise and be flexible
Even the best laid plans go astray, and there will be times when things don’t go quite as expected. Last minute playdates, changes to work hours, emergencies, forgotten appointments, spontaneous day trips – sometimes you have to just go with the flow and be willing to compromise and adjust your plans. It might be irritating and disrupt existing plans, but try not to make unexpected changes lead to arguments and disagreements.
Keep your kids in the loop
Children feel safest and happiest when they know what’s going on. For younger children, mark up a chart or calendar that shows when they’ll be with each parent so they can see what’s coming up next. Older children can be more involved in organisation and decision making over the holidays, but make sure not to put them on the spot and use negotiations as a bargaining chip to get back at your ex. It’s also important to consider the changing needs of your kids at each age and stage of development – for example, teens doing exams may need support from both of you to manage their revision, while younger children and babies might find it easier if you keep your routine as regular as possible. Take some time to talk things through with your children before the summer break and give them the opportunity to make choices, adjustments, and feel a sense of control over their holiday plans.
Remember: ‘fair’ doesn’t always mean 50/50
Co-parenting is about working together for the well-being of your children. It’s not a competition to see who gets the most time with your kids, or who they prefer being with. Your job is to make sure your children are happy, healthy and thriving, and if that means putting pride or resentment aside so you can communicate effectively with your ex, then that’s what you need to do. Finding a ‘fair’ way to divide up the holidays doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll both get equal time. Depending on your circumstances and work commitments, it might make more sense for one of you to have the children more than the other. The important thing is that your children get quality time with both of you.
You deserve time off too!
Single parenting is hard work, and you shouldn’t feel guilty if you feel a little relieved when they head off to stay with your ex, sometimes. You deserve a break! Be prepared for a mix of emotions – you’re likely to feel a little bit lonely or sad without the kids, as well as appreciating the time off – but try not to let it breed resentment between you and your ex. Remember that it’s important for your children to have quality time with both of you. Make the most of your child-free time to look after yourself, catch up with friends, and enjoy the peace and quiet for a change…
Ask for help when you need it
Adjusting to life as a single parent takes time – and a lot of the practical side of things is trial and error. You’re going to need some extra support from your friends, family and your solicitor, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you’re still in the midst of finalising the details of your separation, allow yourself a realistic period of transition and work together with your solicitor or mediator to create a workable co-parenting plan, going forward. The friendly family law team at Frances Lindsay & Co are here to take the weight of legal issues off your shoulders so you can relax a little and truly enjoy the time you have with your children during the holidays.
To talk about any aspect of separation and divorce, including mediation, collaborative family law, and making children’s arrangements, please get in touch with us. We have offices in Maidenhead and Beaconsfield, and offer services across the whole of the Thames Valley. Find out more at www.franceslindsay.co.uk.Tags: divorce and separation, family law, summer holidays