The holiday season and vacations are all about fun and relaxing times for families to come together and create lasting memories. However, for separated families in Canada, these occasions can bring unique challenges and complexities. Coordinating schedules, ensuring children’s well-being, and maintaining healthy communication are essential when navigating holidays and vacations as a separated family. No matter how challenging this phase can be, your and your ex-partner’s goal should be to ensure your children are happy and understand the work their parents are putting in.
Here are 6 ways you can navigate holidays and vacations as a separated family:
1. Prioritize Open Communication
Start by establishing a method of communication that works best for both parents, whether it’s in person, via email, phone calls, or through a co-parenting app. Maintaining open lines of communication allows for effective planning and ensures that everyone is on the same page regarding holiday schedules, travel plans, and other important details. Create a shared calendar that highlights all activities and schedules of your children, so there’s no double booking.
2. Develop a Co-Parenting Plan
Your co-parenting plan should outline how holidays and vacations will be divided between both parents, including specific dates, times, and locations. It should also address any special considerations, such as religious holidays or family traditions. There are multiple goals that you achieve by doing this, which includes avoiding potential conflicts and misunderstandings, offering your children a sense of stability, and reducing the back and forth every time there’s a major holiday coming.
3. Be Flexible and Cooperative
People are late and schedules change all the time. Understand that unexpected changes may occur, and it’s important to be willing to adjust plans accordingly. Cooperation and compromise are essential in maintaining a positive co-parenting relationship. If conflicts arise, remember that you should prioritize the best interests of the children and ensure that they can enjoy meaningful holiday experiences with both parents.
4. Create New Traditions
While it can be challenging to let go of old traditions, embracing the opportunity to create new ones can help ease the transition for both parents and children. Consider involving your children in brainstorming and planning new activities or traditions that can be enjoyed during holidays and vacations. For instance, your kids can create a collaborative memory book to stick photos and write down what they did at each parent’s house, plan one joint family outing to a theme park or zoo around holiday time, and plan one major vacation together every few years to give your children a sense of security.
5. Consider Alternating Holidays
Alternating holidays means that each parent has the opportunity to spend specific holidays with their children on alternating years. For example, one parent may have the children for Christmas in even years, while the other parent has them for Christmas in odd years. After a few holidays, the kids will adjust to the alternating pattern. Give them time to adjust and find themselves in this new change.
6. Focus on the Children’s Well-being
Maintain open and age-appropriate communication with your children, reassuring them that both parents love them and that their needs are being considered. Keep in mind that children may experience a range of emotions during these times, and it’s important to provide them with support, stability, and a safe space to express their feelings.
Sterling Law, in the last 30 years, has helped several families navigate separation and divorce in Brampton, Mississauga, and across Canada. In the midst of all, we ensure that children are always the first priority and protected at all costs. If you’re currently in a difficult situation and looking for legal family advice, please reach out to us today.