School holidays, though eagerly anticipated by your children, can be a difficult time for parents – particularly if you’re bringing up children alone. One quarter of British families are now single parent families and, in these instances, the pressures of childcare, finances and occupying bored children can be overwhelming, especially if they are accompanied with disagreements as to who is spending time with the children and when.
Organisation is key
Make a list of the school holiday dates and how much childcare is likely to be needed, this is especially important if you are juggling full time work and annual leave. You can then estimate the costs of any childcare and negotiate with the other parent how you are going to plan the year.
Once you have reached an agreement, it might be a good idea to use a calendar to mark each parent’s dates throughout the year. This way your children can see in advance who and when they will be spending their holidays with and this may help them feel more at ease.
Involving the children
It is important to involve your children in the decision making where possible. It may be that older children, especially teenagers, want to spend weekends with friends and have more regular indirect contact such as phone calls with the non-resident parents, whereas younger children may require more frequent visits.
In some circumstances a change of plans is unavoidable and flexibility on both sides is required. If your plans need to be altered it is important to consult the other parent, especially before booking anything and if it is at short notice. If both parties make an effort to be understanding it will make a big difference to the children. Try to be as fair as you can and remember that it is important for children to have regular contact with both of their parents.
Contact with the wider family
It is also good for children to have continuing contact with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins etc. from both sides of their family. Keeping in touch can also offer practical help as they can help with child care.
Some holidays will have greater significance than others, such as birthdays. Alternating between the two parents each year is usually the fairest way to deal with important days.
If you do need assistance with arrangements for your children over the holidays then do not hesitate to call us for an appointment with Jane or Holly in our Family Team.