While teachers and children cannot wait for the summer holidays, their excitement is not always shared by parents who are separated or divorced. Issues involving children, such as where they will live and how they will spend time with each parent, are amongst the most difficult when parents separate.
But dealing with childcare during the holidays doesn’t have to be daunting. With some careful planning, co-operation and clear communication, everyone can look forward to a stress-free summer.
How to have a stress-free summer following separation or divorce
Know the dates – sounds obvious but schools often have different end of term and new term start dates each year. Also watch out for teacher training INSET days, which are often tagged on to the end of term or the beginning of the new term, making the holiday longer you may think.
Compare diaries -this will help you to understand each other’s schedules and commitments over the holiday period and identify where there may be an issue concerning childcare. This will allow you to agree childcare arrangements that will work for you both and for the children.
Plan holidays early -and don’t book anything until everything has been agreed. If you are planning a specific trip, a holiday abroad, a few weeks away, then make sure you have discussed this with your children’s other parent and have their agreement before you go ahead and book it.
Discuss finances – if childcare or activities need to be arranged over the holiday period be clear as to how these will be paid for and by whom.
Plan logistics - the holidays can be a hectic time for children who are co-parented, with both parents wanting to holiday with them and take them out and about. Make sure all your plans work for everyone in terms of meeting up, collecting and dropping off, where their belongings will be and so on.
Be child-focussed - make sure you keep the children’s best interests at the centre of everything you do. Holidays shouldn’t be an opportunity to compete with each other as to who can show the children the best time. They will want to enjoy time with both of you. You may want to involve older children in the discussions about the holidays, as they could well want to ensure they will be able to spend time with their friends or simply hanging out at home.
Coming to an agreement
A Shared Parenting Agreement is a good way to agree on how you are going to continue sharing the parenting role, but from separate households. They offer separating parents the opportunity to have a written agreement of the arrangements they have made between themselves concerning their children.
Shared Parenting Agreements record the practical day-to-day arrangements for the care of your children, such as where they will live, contact with each parent, financial support, their schooling and upbringing, and can contain details of how they will spend the holidays, which could save a lot of time and stress in the run-up to the summer holidays each year.
Helen Fitzsimons Family Law can advise you on the most appropriate arrangements based upon your family situation and create a Shared Parenting Agreement that will see you all enjoying stress-free summers. Contact us for more information.