Sharing Holidays After Separation

Christmas Break can be an exception to your regular parenting schedule.

If you are separated with children, you likely have a parenting schedule that states where your children will live and when.  They may spend equal time with both parents, or the majority of their time with one parent.  Regardless of what the regular schedule is, most parents make an exception for holidays such as the school Christmas break as it is a special time of year with fewer obligations and more time to relax.  This may be set out in your Separation Agreement, or you may still need to reach an agreement.

Have you considered how you will share your children's school Christmas break with your former spouse? 

If you have not considered it yet or been able to come to an agreement, it is important to have this conversation as soon as possible.  Some potential schedules are:

  • Keep your regular schedule in place and share Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 
  • The children could spend the first week with one parent and the second with the other each year 
  • The children could spend the first and last parts of the break with one parent, and the middle from Christmas Day to New Year's Day with the other each year

It is about what works for you and your family.  There may be lengthy travel or special traditions to consider.  Take time to discuss what is important to everyone in your family with both your former spouse and your children.  There may need to be changes to transition days, times and locations to accommodate for special events; make sure everything is clearly written down so there is no confusion.

Coordinating holidays isn't just about parenting time.

Have you considered how to make Christmas both special and as stress-free as possible for everyone?  Planning for Christmas after a separation takes work and special attention.  Consider the following tips:

  • Coordinate gift giving using an online app or other tool
  • Ensure your children receive a normal amount of gifts and you do not purchase duplicates
  • Exchange listings of your children's sizes, favourite things, needs and wishes with all involved
  • Talk to your spouse about plans for visiting Santa.  If you take your children to get their picture taken with Santa, be sure to send a copy to the other parent
  • Talk to your spouse about where Santa will bring presents for the children
  • Make a budget and stick to it; finances can be tight post-divorce as you adjust to a new financial situation
  • Help your children pick out and purchase gifts for your former spouse and their extended family

Take the opportunity to start new traditions.

There is also the opportunity to start new traditions after your separation.  Consider expanding the circle of friends or family that you celebrate with, having your children take over important holiday tasks that your former spouse once took care of (e.g. hanging a special decoration, picking out the tree), and give your children the opportunity to contribute ideas for new traditions as well as to share what is important to them from previous years.

If you have questions or comments about this post, please start a conversation with me on Twitter @freshstartott.  

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