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10 tips for separated parents during school holidays and special occasions

20 June 2023
Olivia Lilly
Read Time 5 mins reading time

It’s natural for separated parents to feel anxious in the lead-up to school holidays. As the schedule strays from the norm, extra coordination and consideration are often required and it can be difficult to keep a cool head when coordinating logistics. Not to mention also remaining present for those special family occasions!

Acting for clients during divorce proceedings is not the only thing our Family Law team does. We are huge advocates for separated parents confidently discussing plans and expectations in a safe and calm environment before things escalate. Our aim is to help separated parents navigate difficult times with less stress so they can enjoy time with their children to the fullest extent.

To get the most from the holidays, we’ve compiled our top 10 tips that can assist separated parents during challenging times.

  1. Acknowledge changed circumstances

Family separation is typically an emotionally taxing time for all involved. This is particularly the case for parents and children navigating separation during school holidays and other significant events such as birthdays, the festive season, and other holidays for the first time.

School holidays and special occasions are usually times spent with family and other loved ones. Following a separation, it is important to acknowledge that existing traditions and arrangements involving the whole family are likely no longer suitable. Conversely, separation presents co-parents with a unique opportunity to work cooperatively in creating new and enjoyable experiences for their children.

  1. Plan early

It is important for co-parents to prioritise discussions with their former partners about arrangements for children during school holidays well in advance of the conclusion of the school term. Some parents may wish to plan all holiday periods for the entire calendar year at the beginning of the year in January, whilst others may set a time at the middle of each school term to discuss plans for the upcoming months. Having these discussions early makes planning less stressful whilst also allowing parents to propose vacations including the children to the other parent with sufficient notice.

  1. Be flexible and realistic

When planning for school holidays and special occasions, it is important to consider traditions involving the children that both parents and extended families may have. Separation will usually mean that children will spend time between two homes, so it is important that parents are realistic and compromise regarding what is manageable for children with each parent. It is also important to be prepared to review arrangements as children grow older and their needs and interests inevitably change.

  1. Practice good communication

It is essential for parents to maintain a civil and courteous relationship in order to effectively co-parent their children. Parents are encouraged to be conscious of their communication and remember that if emotions are high, always pause for 24 hours and revisit the message before sending it. Further, considering the mode of communication (whether it be via phone, text, email or a parenting application), tone and the potential impact that a message may have on the children should they come across it can also assist.

  1. Clearly define timeframes

Separation is a tricky time for children and the best way that parents can support them is through clear structure and consistency. When coming to an agreement about parenting arrangements, it is advisable to document it in writing and be specific about dates and times to avoid potential future disagreements.

  1. Maximise the time

Rather than parents focusing on the premise that they are spending less time with their children during school holidays and other special occasions, they are encouraged to instead concentrate on how they can maximise the time they have. Considering new traditions that can be created and other ways in which children can be supported during the change is beneficial to creating positive memories.

  1. Create boundaries

To create consistency for children, parents may come to an agreement about boundaries for their children, such as bedtime, screen time and co-curricular activities. Notwithstanding, it is important to remember that each person will likely parent differently at times. Overall, it is most important to focus on the best interests of the children whenever there is conflict or issues arise.

  1. Be child-focused

It is understandable that parents want to spend as much time as they can with their child post-separation. However, it is important that parents prioritise their children’s needs above their own wishes and remain cognisant of how they can support them during the separation process. Being mindful of incorporating aspects of traditions and rituals that the children enjoy and can assist them to navigate the unfamiliarity of holidays and special occasions post-separation.

  1. Remember that each family is unique

When parents try to come to an agreement surrounding their children, remember that there is no uniform approach that suits all families. Each family will have its own unique traditions and varying emphasis on special occasions and events. Keeping the children’s best interests at the forefront and focusing on creating arrangements that will work for each specific family, will assist in ensuring the arrangements can remain in place for the long-term.

  1. Seek professional advice

If parents cannot come to an agreement or are unsure of their rights and obligations, we encourage them to contact our team for specialist advice that will assist them in negotiating arrangements that are suitable for their unique circumstances. If parents do come to an agreement, our team can also assist them in the process of making it legally binding.

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10 tips for separated parents during school holidays and special occasions

20 June 2023
Olivia Lilly

It’s natural for separated parents to feel anxious in the lead-up to school holidays. As the schedule strays from the norm, extra coordination and consideration are often required and it can be difficult to keep a cool head when coordinating logistics. Not to mention also remaining present for those special family occasions!

Acting for clients during divorce proceedings is not the only thing our Family Law team does. We are huge advocates for separated parents confidently discussing plans and expectations in a safe and calm environment before things escalate. Our aim is to help separated parents navigate difficult times with less stress so they can enjoy time with their children to the fullest extent.

To get the most from the holidays, we’ve compiled our top 10 tips that can assist separated parents during challenging times.

  1. Acknowledge changed circumstances

Family separation is typically an emotionally taxing time for all involved. This is particularly the case for parents and children navigating separation during school holidays and other significant events such as birthdays, the festive season, and other holidays for the first time.

School holidays and special occasions are usually times spent with family and other loved ones. Following a separation, it is important to acknowledge that existing traditions and arrangements involving the whole family are likely no longer suitable. Conversely, separation presents co-parents with a unique opportunity to work cooperatively in creating new and enjoyable experiences for their children.

  1. Plan early

It is important for co-parents to prioritise discussions with their former partners about arrangements for children during school holidays well in advance of the conclusion of the school term. Some parents may wish to plan all holiday periods for the entire calendar year at the beginning of the year in January, whilst others may set a time at the middle of each school term to discuss plans for the upcoming months. Having these discussions early makes planning less stressful whilst also allowing parents to propose vacations including the children to the other parent with sufficient notice.

  1. Be flexible and realistic

When planning for school holidays and special occasions, it is important to consider traditions involving the children that both parents and extended families may have. Separation will usually mean that children will spend time between two homes, so it is important that parents are realistic and compromise regarding what is manageable for children with each parent. It is also important to be prepared to review arrangements as children grow older and their needs and interests inevitably change.

  1. Practice good communication

It is essential for parents to maintain a civil and courteous relationship in order to effectively co-parent their children. Parents are encouraged to be conscious of their communication and remember that if emotions are high, always pause for 24 hours and revisit the message before sending it. Further, considering the mode of communication (whether it be via phone, text, email or a parenting application), tone and the potential impact that a message may have on the children should they come across it can also assist.

  1. Clearly define timeframes

Separation is a tricky time for children and the best way that parents can support them is through clear structure and consistency. When coming to an agreement about parenting arrangements, it is advisable to document it in writing and be specific about dates and times to avoid potential future disagreements.

  1. Maximise the time

Rather than parents focusing on the premise that they are spending less time with their children during school holidays and other special occasions, they are encouraged to instead concentrate on how they can maximise the time they have. Considering new traditions that can be created and other ways in which children can be supported during the change is beneficial to creating positive memories.

  1. Create boundaries

To create consistency for children, parents may come to an agreement about boundaries for their children, such as bedtime, screen time and co-curricular activities. Notwithstanding, it is important to remember that each person will likely parent differently at times. Overall, it is most important to focus on the best interests of the children whenever there is conflict or issues arise.

  1. Be child-focused

It is understandable that parents want to spend as much time as they can with their child post-separation. However, it is important that parents prioritise their children’s needs above their own wishes and remain cognisant of how they can support them during the separation process. Being mindful of incorporating aspects of traditions and rituals that the children enjoy and can assist them to navigate the unfamiliarity of holidays and special occasions post-separation.

  1. Remember that each family is unique

When parents try to come to an agreement surrounding their children, remember that there is no uniform approach that suits all families. Each family will have its own unique traditions and varying emphasis on special occasions and events. Keeping the children’s best interests at the forefront and focusing on creating arrangements that will work for each specific family, will assist in ensuring the arrangements can remain in place for the long-term.

  1. Seek professional advice

If parents cannot come to an agreement or are unsure of their rights and obligations, we encourage them to contact our team for specialist advice that will assist them in negotiating arrangements that are suitable for their unique circumstances. If parents do come to an agreement, our team can also assist them in the process of making it legally binding.