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Managing school holidays when you are separated

However well you are managing the week-to-week parenting arrangements with your ex-partner, the school holidays may present new challenges.

If you have the children most of the time, you might be looking forward to having a break from the routine, and getting some fun time together with the children (and possibly  some ‘me time’ without them!). If you are the non-resident parent, you may have mixed feelings. You may be excited about  treating your children, and spending a bit longer together, but also anxious about potential conflict with your ex-partner.

If you can work out the arrangements well in advance, you should have an easier time of it. As parents, you can both make plans, and the children will know what to expect and look forward to. However, it isn’t always easy.

Planning the holidays can often lead to arguments about time, costs, and who needs a holiday most. It can also bring out the competitive nature of ex-partners. While you might feel that you have good reason to fight for your case, conflict can often leave children trapped in the middle.

So, how do you keep things respectful and ensure that your children get to spend quality time with both of you?

Here are a few suggestions for happier holidays
  • Talk with your children before making any firm plans.
  • Don’t use your children as messengers between you and your ex.
  • Try to see things from your ex-partner’s point of view – you will both have different feelings about how best to manage holidays.
  • Tell the children about changes to activities, but do not overwhelm them with details.
  • Be respectful of your ex-partner when discussing plans with your children.

Disagreements are bound to arise when dealing with your ex-partner. If you find yourself locked in battle, try to step back and remember the big picture. Try and manage everyone’s expectations as best you can, be prepared to compromise, and remember… there will be other holidays.

Your children will benefit from being able to have a good time with both of you. If you can keep that goal in mind, you may be able to avoid a lot of potential disagreements.

These tips can help you keep it civil
  • Make it a priority to develop a workable plan with your ex-partner.
  • Don’t argue with your ex-partner in front of your children – even on the phone.
  • Avoid talking to your children about your ex-partner’s behaviour.
  • Be polite and efficient when you’re sorting out the details.
  • Focus on the strengths and interests of all family members, including your ex-partner.

Remember that holidays can form a significant part of childhood memories. Finding ways for your children to cope better, and trying to be mindful of your ex-partner, can go a long way to smoothing the path and giving your family happy memories to cherish forever.

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