1. Got a Plan? No? Do it Now.
If you haven’t yet made arrangements for the kids for the Easter long weekend, don’t worry, you still have time but you need to hop to it! Perhaps, while you’re at it, why not look at putting arrangements in place for Christmas?
Some of the benefits of having plans in place for the holidays, are that they reduce any anxiety the children may be feeling about who they’re spending the holidays with, and where they’ll be staying. It also reduces your own stress as you know what will be happening and so does your ex. This allows you to plan your time accordingly.
Some families prefer a shared time arrangement where each holiday is divided (ie Easter Friday and Saturday with one parent and Sunday/Monday with the other). Alternately, some find it easier to alternate years.
Other families will alternate Easter and Christmas in each year, delineating which parent spends time with the children during which holiday with reference to odd or even numbered years.
When it comes to making the plan with your ex it’s tempting to think about what is easier for you, and for them – what makes sense logistically etc. However, keep in mind that your first priority should be about what’s best for the children.
The earlier you start discussions, the more time to you have to discuss options in case you cannot agree early on. This gives you that buffer time to reach an agreement yourself or to seek legal advice and/or attend mediation if necessary.
2. Put the details in writing
When you do come to an arrangement with your co-parent, you need to ensure the terms are not vague or ambiguous.
For example, “Mother to take the children for the first part of the Easter break”
The problems here are:
- When does the ‘first part’ begin and end?
- What is the changeover time?
- Where is the changeover taking place?
- Who is responsible for pick up and drop off?
Be sure you iron out the nuts and bolts of your arrangement so there’s no confusion down the line. The clearer things are, the less chance there is of a miscommunication and/or argument.
Once you have a clear-cut agreement, record it in writing. It can be as simple as a text or email, or something more formalised such as a letter sent through lawyers.
By not documenting or recording your agreement, you will not be able to rely upon that agreement later on should your ex revoke on the agreement.
3. The children come first
At the end of the day, any decision you make should primarily take into account what is in the best interest of the children – their needs, your previous traditions, and the children’s extended family.
This means that as much as you want to share the holiday with your kids, that doesn’t mean that you have to prevent the other parent from also sharing special time with them.
More often than parents realise, children to feel as if they are caught in the middle between their parents. You want to reduce this feeling and take that stress off your child.
4. Try to find a solution, even if at first you can’t see it
Even if things haven’t gone to plan, and your ex doesn’t agree to the options you proposed, or withholds the children altogether, don’t give up.
Perhaps things aren’t going to happen the way you planned them this easer. Maybe your ex has only offered you the bare minimum of time with your children. That doesn’t mean you can’t create your own special day with your children.
You could create your own Easter celebration (egg hunt, hot cross buns and all) on a different day – how exciting for your child! At the least, you could ask to exchange or post a gift to your children. You can opt for telephone, skype or Facetime communication on the day itself as well.
At the end of the day, the children will be excited to see you and spend any time with you, so make it count.
5. Get the carrot next year
If things don’t work out that well this year, you can take proactive steps to prevent this happening again in the future. Don’t assume that your situation is a lost cause – seek legal advice to put plans in place for next year now.
Samantha Singer is the marketing manager for FGD, based in the Sydney Office.