Christmas is only but a few days away which means that some of you divorcing or separating parents have got your future parenting plans or co-parenting plans firmly in place.
But if you don’t yet have your parenting plan in place and are still struggling to set one up or have a temporary one in place, then here are some Christmas parenting plan examples that you may want to consider for you and your children:
Full Christmas Alternate: This is the one my exes and I have used for the past 20 years or so. As we all like to travel with the children over the holidays, they get to spend the entire Christmas and New Year period with one parent and then with the other parent the year after.
Of course I miss my girls when they are away just as I’m sure their dads miss them when they are with me but one thing we always do is make our own plans so that we aren’t too lonely or sad without them.
This Christmas parenting plan example can work well for older children, maybe 6+ years, as they are better able to handle long blocks of time away from you or the other parents. Skype, Facetime, Whatsapp etc help plenty in keeping in touch with each other during your time apart.
Half Christmas Alternate: This is where one parent has the children over the Christmas period and the other over the New Year Period and then you alternate the year after meaning the children get to spend Christmas day itself with each parent at some point. It can work well for parents who like to travel but have younger children but maybe not for the under 3 year olds unless the “absent” parent can get an opportunity to physically touch base with them at some point during the week that they are with the other parent.
Christmas Day Share: I once met a young lady, she was in her twenties, who spoke fondly of how her and her siblings would spend Christmas morning with one parent and then go over to the other parent’s later on in the day. She said it worked brilliantly for them as they would then see both parents and get to open all their presents on the same day!
This Christmas parenting plan example can be a tricky one as children having fun, especially toddlers, may not want to change gears and up and leave. It may also cause conflict if one parent is running late. So I would suggest that should you opt for this option, that the children are given as much information as possible so that they know what is going on.
Whom are they spending the first half of the day with? Who will be there? What time are they going to the next home? Who will be there? How are they getting there? When and where will they see the other parent again? All these details maybe inconvenient for you, but they are important for your child. They need to know where they stand.
These are just 3 Christmas parenting plan examples but there are many others.
One thing I frequently tell parents is that the divorce and/or separation is an important time for your children but what is even more important is how well, or not, their life after divorce is managed by you because handled badly, that could be the primary trauma for them.
Each of the parenting plans above, have the children firmly in mind. You may not like not being with your children on Christmas day but frankly, they are just happy to have a fab time whatever day you chose to celebrate Christmas.
You can create your own traditions.
If my children are travelling over the Christmas period, I make sure we have our Christmas dinner the day before they fly out. We sit around the table, wish one another a Merry Christmas, talk about all kinds of stuff, open our gifts just as though it was 25th and just enjoy the time together. And it works.
It doesn’t mean that we don’t miss one another nor does it mean that I am not sad not to be with them, but what it does mean is that we all end up having a good time and we all know what the plans are, with whom and when and that right there not only grants our children a good sense of security but it also gives them assurance and peace which is precisely what they need.
Soila is a Parenting Therapist, accredited Triple P practitioner, Certified Trauma Specialist and trained Family Mediator. She works in private practice mainly, but not exclusively, with families going through divorce and separation.