5 tips to help you parent smoothly through the school holidays after separation
Deciding who children will spend their time with and how they will spend their time off during the holidays is a challenge for all parents and can throw up all sorts of additional difficulties for separated and divorced parents.
We are huge advocates of putting children first in all decision making during and after separation and this is particularly important when planning for school holidays. We have put together five tips on how to deal with some of the emotional and practical issues that might arise.
Focus on the family as a whole
Holidays have the potential to create extra tension between parents, whether that’s because your ex-spouse is planning to take the kids on a holiday of a lifetime that you could never afford or seems reluctant to share vacation care at all.
If the children are going away with your ex for a week or two, try to see it as an opportunity to enjoy some ‘me time’ rather than focusing too much on how much you’ll miss them and whether they’ll be having a better time with their other parent. If you are struggling to cope with childcare over the school holidays because your ex isn’t pulling their weight, the first step should be to try and arrange to sit down and have a chat as a family to work something out. If this isn’t possible, it may be helpful to consider mediation to try and find a compromise.
Do some forward planning
Children like certainty so if you can plan ahead for the year it will make life simpler for the whole family. As soon as schools provide the dates of holidays for the next academic year, you can start to plan where children will spend their time. If you are working, let the other parent know when you can get time off and find out the same from them. This way, any disagreement over dates and plans can be anticipated and dealt with in advance and won’t result in trips being cancelled at the last minute.
Talk to each other
A lot of the conflict is caused when a parent books a trip abroad with their children without letting the other parent know in advance. Taking children out of the country without the other parent’s consent can cause legal problems as well as arguments in the family so It is important to share as much information as possible with each other. When you are setting off on a trip, have the courtesy to tell the other parent where you’re staying and to exchange emergency contact numbers for everyone’s safety and peace of mind.
Give children a say
School holiday care is one of those family issues that directly involves your children so it makes absolute sense to sit down with them and ask them for their input. It’s easy for adults to make all the decisions without stopping to find out if their children are happy with things. You might discover that they have plans themselves, such as taking part in team and sports activities, visiting family or going on holiday with friends. If grandparents are involved in childcare it can be helpful to include them in your discussions too.
Learn to let go
One of the hardest things for any parent is letting go of control. Young children need a parent to organise every element of their lives, take them to parties and plan all their activities and care. As children get older, they can be encouraged to do more for themselves and this is something that applies to all families, not just those that have gone through separation or divorce. Separated parents have the added complication of relinquishing some control to the other parent and it can help to see this as part of a process that will result in your children one day being fully independent adults.
Remember – good co-parenting means putting your children’s needs first and making sure your own feelings of anger and resentment don’t stand in the way of their relationship with both their parents. If you really are struggling to make amicable arrangements or feel your children are suffering because of conflict between their parents, we offer both family mediation and child inclusive mediation. Child inclusive mediation gives children and young people a safe space to share their feelings in confidence and can help families move forward together in a way that makes children feel supported.
To find out more about child inclusive mediation call Clark Family Law on 01423 637272