Summer Holidays: Managing Conflicting Days Off

Summer holidays and joint custody - 2ouses

Holidays can be tricky for parents with joint custody. After all, many companies do not let you take vacations whenever you want! If you’re struggling to figure out what to do with your children during your holiday (but not theirs), this article is for you.

The Old Standby: The Visitation Schedule

Your custodian agreement likely has a clearly delineated visitation schedule. That said, it’s rare to see a custodial agreement that doesn’t include flexibility for trades, swaps, or other scheduling changes. If you’re struggling to figure out how to handle having your holiday when the kids are still in school, this is the first move.

summer holidays
Mom and son

The more you communicate with your former partner about your desire to spend time with the kids, the better. Be open to swapping weekends or even entire holiday seasons if that’s what it takes. For example, if you’re forced to take your vacation the month before the summer holidays begin, ask to swap possession during those few weeks. If your former partner is proving reticent, consider sweetening the pot: throw in some extended weekend visits.

The goal here is to work within the confines of the existing joint custody agreement to produce the best result for everyone. The more you can achieve with talking, the better.

Bring the Kids Along (Virtually)

If your children aren’t home (and you are taking your holidays), use your free time! For example, consider asking your former partner if it’s possible to do regular video calls with the kids. If physical possession is out of the question, bring the kids along in a virtual sense.

camera and holidays
A vintage camera with vintage photos

Nearly everyone has some combination of smartphone, laptop, or tablet computer. It’s easy as pie to video call the kids daily while you’re off surfing in Hawaii or exploring the streets of Europe. If the time zones don’t line up, or if the kids are busy, record short videos of your vacation adventures. The kids can watch them when they have the time and you’ll remain a constant presence in their life.

Consider Offering Your Own Time

Parenting is the busiest profession in the world, bar none. Taking the kids from soccer practice to band practice to chess club takes time that your former partner may not have. If you’d prefer to spend some of your summer holidays with your kids, offer to make your former partner’s life a bit easier.

Holidays as mono parent
Dad and his daughter at the sea.

Of course, this depends entirely on your joint custody agreement. Your current relationship with your ex certainly comes into play as well. That said, an amicable offer goes a long way: offering to take the kids to soccer practice (followed by ice cream) might give your former spouse a few precious hours they desperately need.

Talk Early, Talk Often

It’s a sad reality that joint custody parenting often focuses more on managing your relationship with your former partner than anything else. The more you talk, the better the outcome for those pesky holiday schedules. Take the time to work out a clear summer holiday schedule as far in advance as possible. The sooner you know there will be a scheduling conflict during your holiday, the better!

Managing Summer Holidays

It’s not fun to find out that you’re forced to take vacation days away from your children. If it happens, take the time to communicate your desires to the other parent and see if an agreement can be reached. If there’s no way to change the vacation schedule, see if it’s possible to volunteer some time here and there. And, of course, phone calls, video chats, and short video clips never go amiss.

It’s not an ideal situation, but use these tips and make the best of it!

Navigating Joint Custody and Father’s Day

father's day

It might take a few months, or even longer, but parents and kids will get used to a new normal after divorce. The kids will become accustomed to spending time with one parent at a time, and you and your ex will adjust too. But even when you sort out the logistics of everyday life post-divorce, certain holidays may always be a source of tension. With Father’s Day and Mother’s Day approaching, talking now about what will happen on these special days is an important part of making them run smoothly.

Joint Custody and Father’s Day: Potential Pitfalls

Especially if this coming Father’s Day is your family’s first since the divorce, having a happy and loving day with your kids probably feels really important. Hopefully that’s exactly what will happen, but it’s important to be mindful about all the potential obstacles that your family will have to navigate.

First, there’s the legal side. Your custody agreement will factor into how you handle scheduling these holidays. It’s not just up to your and your ex to decide what happens, so check that agreement first.

Next, think about your expectations for this special day. Father’s Day probably seems even more important now that you’re not with the kids every day, but expecting a perfect day of family bonding is probably not realistic. Your kids might be grumpy, the weather could be bad – any number of things could throw a wrench in the plans. Stay flexible.

And if you’re not able to get custody for Father’s Day, think ahead about what you can do on that day instead. Plan a full slate of fun and distracting activities with childless friends, or opt for a low-key day at home if you think seeing families out and about will be too hard.

Divorced parents deal with these issues around Mother’s Day, too. We’re focused on joint custody and Father’s Day today, but these same pitfalls and strategies are just as relevant to moms who aren’t scheduled to have custody on Mother’s Day.

Talking to Your Ex About Holidays

Who gets custody on a special holiday is a hotly contested issue between some divorced parents. This is an emotional issue, and being separated from your kids on a day when you’re supposed to be together can cause tension between your and your ex. It’s imperative that you don’t let that happen, as adding conflict to your relationship will hurt the kids.

Luckily, you can both understand the significance of these parent-specific holidays. One good strategy to get access to your kids when they’re scheduled to be with their other parent is to offer an even exchange. If the kids can be with you on Father’s Day, your ex can have them on Mother’s Day or on another important date of her choosing.

If your relationship with your co-parent is really strained, put your request in an email or ask a trusted family member to serve as a go between. Your ex still disagrees to your request for custody that day? Suggest the whole family gets together for a meal so you can at least see the kids for part of the day.

Talking to Your Kids About Holidays

If your discussions about joint custody and Father’s Day go nowhere, you’ll have to prepare yourself and your kids to be apart on this day. The best strategy? Ignore what the calendar says and establish your own [Last Name] Family Father’s Day, on a weekend when you have custody.

Your kids might ask about why they won’t see you on Father’s Day, especially when they notice their friends are spending the day with their dads. Be honest and sympathetic, making sure not to blame your ex for the scheduling. Say something like, “I’m disappointed too, but it’s your weekend to be with mom and it’s important that we stick to that agreement. We’re going to celebrate on [date] instead!” If possible, make a plan to video chat with the kids on Father’s Day so you can share a meal or read a book together, even if you can’t be physically together.