The school year is underway, and the holidays will be here before you know it. Those parents planning their divorce will likely have a very different holiday season this year. The key to making it work for the kids and the parents are creating a holiday visitation schedule that minimizes the stress while still touching upon many of the family’s usual traditions. Some tried-and-true formulas are popular for a reason, but some preplanning may be necessary to address the family member’s unique needs.
The tried and true
Here are some that have been successful for many families with divorced parents:
- Alternating holidays: The parents can alternate holidays by year, which means one gets the kids for Thanksgiving one year and the other parent gets them on that day next year. This splitting can be further broken up by having parents not having both Thanksgiving and Christmas (or the next major holiday) back to back.
- Splitting the holidays: If the parents live reasonably close to each other, the day can be divided up in half or on back-to-back days.
- Double holidays: Getting a second holiday to celebrate is a very popular option for young kids. This arrangement allows each parent to have a standard event with no rushing. Perhaps, schedule the extra day before the tradition, and do it a week or two earlier. This approach avoids the feeling that the bonus Christmas is an afterthought.
- Same holidays: Some extended families have strong traditions where people travel for a particular holiday, and it may make sense to keep that tradition in place.
Special family holidays
Some holidays are only a big deal for the family itself, and it may make sense for both parents to participate simultaneously, making it all the more special. Alternatively, they can have a prearranged plan to mark the day. Typical examples of special holidays include:
- Your child’s birthday: Both parents should have time to celebrate with their children.
- Your birthday: The parent may get a bonus day for his or her birthday, regardless of what the usual custody schedule says.
- Long weekends: These are great opportunities for short trips out of town or extended time with the kids.
- Mother’s Day and Father’s Day: Each parent gets their day.
- Thanksgiving: As an alternative, the parent who does not get Thanksgiving gets the Friday to Sunday stretch.
Don’t miss these milestones
Holidays are a special time when families traditionally gather. Effective parenting plans can ensure that milestones stay in place, but it also signals that the family unit is stable and things will not change as much as the children (or parents) initially feared. Parents can discuss their priorities with their attorneys to determine a viable course of action.