Every parent wants the Christmas holidays to be magical and special time for their children – a time where memories are made. But for separated couples it can be a particularly challenging time – especially if you can’t agree on who will spend what time with the kids…—
With Christmas holidays fast approaching, reaching an agreement is becoming more and more important. Going into the holiday period without a parenting plan is likely to put unnecessary stress on everyone – and after the year we’ve all just had that is the last thing any of us want.
Often parenting agreements state that holiday time will be ‘shared’. While this gives flexibility it also means that parents are left having to sort out what the arrangement will be, each and every time the school holidays come round. And in my experience it is usually the Christmas holidays that are the hardest to reach agreement on.
If you and your ex are trying to reach agreement on parenting arrangements can over Christmas, I recommend you look to:
1. Maintain Christmas traditions
For kids, maintaining as many of the Christmas traditions the family had when they were together is important. For example, if you all used to attend a large family Christmas Eve celebration, it’s ideal if the kids can continue to attend each year. In working through arrangements it’s important to prioritise these sorts of traditions for the kids.
2. Avoid ‘shipping’ the kids around on Christmas Day
Naturally both parents will want to spend time with their children on Christmas Day. But this isn’t always ideal for the kids – especially if there is a big chunks of travel time involved. A better options may be to alternate Christmases so that the kids spend ‘quality’ time with each of you, rather than ‘car’ time.
3. Spend Christmas morning together (if you can tolerate each other)
If you and your ex are able to be pleasant to one another, consider spending Christmas morning or another part of the day, opening gifts together. Providing you can be respectful, kind and supportive this time together can mean the world for the kids and each parents relationship with them.
4. Make sure the kids see and speak to each parent – even if they’re not there on the day
If one parent can’t physically be with the kids, make sure that they get to see and speak to them on Christmas Day with a video call.
5. Document your arrangements – so there’s no room for confusion
It’s a simple but critical step that can prevent misunderstandings and confrontations. When everyone is on the same page (including the kids) you’re all better placed to enjoy the holidays and make those special memories. An experienced family lawyer can help you do this, or if need be help you get a court order in place.
If you and your ex are struggling to reach agreement on arrangements for the holiday period, mediation can help you find common ground and reach agreement.