Holiday Schedules for Divorced Parents
Co-Parenting Tips

Holiday Schedules for Divorced Parents: Tips for a Successful Holiday Season

Holidays give us perfect opportunities to spend quality time with our family. Unfortunately, they are also the ideal occasions for miscommunications, broken promises, and last-minute changes of schedule in divorced and blended families. Finding the best holiday schedules for divorced parents is challenging.

These problems become a pattern for you if you are dealing with toxic ex and co-parent, making holidays a nightmare for you. Even if your ex is supportive, communication and scheduling issues can ruin the occasion. Your personal schedule may not match that of your co-parent, making room for disappointment. So, you may feel the need to give up a holiday because the ex will not be in town on the next one. Or you may reschedule your plans because the co-parent wanted the children to meet their grandmother on her surprise visit.

While some of the reschedules are inevitable, your need for certainty around holidays is not uncalled for. If you feel that last-minute holiday scheduling is robbing you of peace of mind, you should consider scheduling it formally.

Holiday Schedules for Divorced Parents |

Why Holiday Child Custody Schedule is Important

These schedules become a necessity for some divorced parents because of the intensity of conflicts they face while planning their holidays. They have to stick to a routine and plan their vacations around the schedule not the other way around. Because you discuss and create this schedule only once, you don’t have to argue before every vacation for custody rights.

At the same time, this schedule also has hidden advantages for the children involved as well.

First, this schedule promises certainty to the kids. They know with whom they will spend their next holiday. They can plan their activities accordingly.

Secondly, it eliminates – or minimizes – disagreements, showing them the civilized way of coordinating even in the presence of disagreements. They will see that their parents are committed to making compromises on their schedule to accommodate children’s routines and expectations.

Holidays Schedules to Consider

You would want to keep track of national holidays as well as relevant religious holidays. These schedules will also include planning for summer vacations and spring breaks.

National days – like the 4th of July and Juneteenth – are easier to schedule as only one parent can plan it with kids. 3-day weekends may include alternating the holiday or splitting time between parents. You may want to discuss arrangements for Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays. But most of the work for those events will be covered by the original schedule.

The respective parent would want to celebrate Mother’s or Father’s Day with the kid. The same is the case with either parent’s birthday. At the same time, both parents may choose to celebrate their child’s birthday together. Other options include splitting birthday time between co-parents. You can also ask to celebrate his birthday one year and let your co-parent have the privilege the next year.

You may want to split time for religious holidays. Or if the two parents follow different religions, the scheduling will be easier.

The next section discusses a few practical approaches to scheduling holidays without conflicts.

Holiday Child Custody Schedule Examples

There are three methods to schedule holidays. These include splitting holiday time, alternating years of celebration, and mixing the two methods. Let’s consider each method in detail.

Split Holiday

This method works for long holidays. You can apply it to Christmas, Thanksgiving, 3-day weekends, summer vacations, and spring breaks. You may also want to apply it to a child’s birthday to celebrate the occasion twice. For example, you can divide Christmas time in half by allowing one parent to celebrate with the child from December 23rd to 25th and the second parent will get Christmas day through December 25th.

For 3-day weekends, you might want to change from a 50-50 split to a more disproportionate split. Discuss with the co-parent to split the holiday into weekend and Monday holiday parts. This way, extra time with children will be offset by the opportunity to celebrate the event with them.

You cannot use this method for national days. Plus, you may not want to apply it if you and your co-parent aren’t residing close enough.

Alternating Holidays Child Custody

You can apply this method on all holidays if you want. But most parents reserve this method for shorter holidays.

In this schedule, one parent spends one holiday with the child and the other one takes the next one. This schedule holds for one year after that, it reverses. So, each parent will get some holidays with the child one year and others in the second year.

Here is an example of a holiday plan under the alternating holiday method:

Memorial DayParent AOdd
Independence DayParent BOdd
Labor DayParent AOdd

Holidays Schedule – A Mixture of Split and Alternate

This method works for longer holidays. Examples of vacations where this schedule is successfully applied include extended religious holidays like Christmas, Diwali, Ramadan, and Hanukkah and study breaks like spring break and summer vacations.

The parents will split the time of these vacations in half. One parent will get the first half of these holidays one year and the other will claim the latter half that year. This division will reverse in the next year allowing the parent who took the first half to claim the latter half and vice versa.

This allows both parents to have equal time with their kids both in terms of quality and quantity.

Other Child Custody Schedule Methods

You may also agree with the co-parent to fix some holidays with one parent or the other for all years. This may happen when one parent values those particular holidays more than the other parent.

You may also choose to celebrate some holidays twice so each parent can get to celebrate it with the child separately.

Related articles: Shared Custody Schedules or check out 5 Tips for Co Parenting

Take Away

Holidays are for fun and family. And if you plan them properly, they will become happy memories for your children. But sometimes, mismatch in schedules, miscommunications, and desire to spend more time with the child adds stress instead of fun to these occasions.

If your blended family is experiencing more stress than fun during the holidays, you should discuss and lay out the holiday schedule with your co-parent. Hopefully, this schedule will smooth out things within the family.

Other Holiday Schedules Resources

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