When negotiating parenting arrangements a lot of parents agree to share time in the school holidays but forget to specifically negotiate special holidays such as Christmas. This can become a very stressful period for all involved.
Try and remember that Christmas is about making an enjoyable and memorable experience for the children. It will certainly not be in the children’s best interests to feel as if they are caught in the middle of a tug-of-war between their parents on such special occasions.
If possible, you should try and negotiate plans that work well for everyone, particularly the children. The last thing you want to do is arrange times that effectively mean the children have to rush between households and won’t get to sit down and enjoy family time, such as a special lunch, at either home.
Some important things to consider when negotiating Christmas time include:
- where each parent plans to spend Christmas and what this means in terms of travelling for the children,
- whether any special arrangements have been made such as family members attending for the festivities that the children may not have seen for a long time, and
- special customs that may have significance for one particular party or the children. For example, it is customary for some cultures to celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve, rather than the actual day.
- you could also have Christmas celebrations on Boxing Day and spoil the kids by giving them two Christmas celebrations, one at each household.
An example of an arrangement that could work for Christmas time may be:
- One parent spends from 4:00pm on Christmas Eve to 4:00pm on Christmas Day allowing them to have proper time for a Christmas Lunch, and
- The other parent spends from 4:00pm on Christmas Day to 4:00pm Boxing Day.
- The usual living arrangements then re-commence from 4:00pm on Boxing Day, so that the parent spending the first half of the school holidays with the children receives the children back into their care.
This arrangement could then swap for the following year to ensure the children have the opportunity to experience a full and relaxed holiday with each of their parents.