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.
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.
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.
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!
Anyone can start a blended family. Actually getting everyone to blend is a bigger challenge.
When you become the spouse or partner of a parent, it’s entirely normal to feel a mix of emotions. You might be excited to have these kids in your life, and anxious about how to not step on the toes of their other parent. Maybe you’re worried about how to discipline the kids, or nervous they won’t get along with your family. Your top priority, though, is probably to form a loving and respectful relationship with the new kids in your life.
As one of the adults at the head of a new blended family, it’s up to you to nurture the relationships you have with your partner’s kids. A few simple strategies, and a lot of patience, will help you get there.
Set Clear Boundaries and Expectations
Kids need consistency and boundaries to feel safe and secure. Establishing boundaries will also protect you from having to make up rules and punishments on the fly, which creates tension.
First, talk to the other parent about the kind of household you want to create. Make a list of house rules that are important to both of you, and talk about what the consequences will be when someone breaks a rule. Next, bring the family together to talk about the rules. Give everyone a chance to talk. Ask kids to share the things they feel they need from you to feel safe and comfortable. Ideally, you’ll schedule regular family get-togethers so everyone has a chance to air any grievances rather than letting them fester.
Find Individual Bonding Experiences
To bring your entire blended family together, focus on strengthening the individual relationships between all of you. Find common activities or interests that you can share with each child. If one kid loves sports, buy season tickets for a local baseball or basketball team. If another is into reading, make a point to schedule weekly library trips for the two of you.
If you have kids of your own, encourage them to form individual relationships with their new step-siblings. Even if it’s just asking a pair of them to join you for a grocery-shopping trip, give them plenty of chances to spend one-on-one time together.
Find Time for Fun
Blending two households and establishing new dynamics is stressful! But if months go by and the kids don’t see you do anything but worry and talk about rules, they’re not going to be inclined to bond with you.
Find unexpected ways to inject some fun and laughter into your shared life. Announce a surprise beach trip one day, or decide that the first Saturday of every month will be a family fun day. Play silly board games and ask kids to show you their favorite funny movies.
Give Kids Some Space
Kids had a whole life with their parent before you arrived on the scene. Part of forming a bonded blended family is showing each other respect for your individual pasts. So be careful to allow plenty of space and time for kids and your partner to have together. Encourage them to have meals alone and to take trips by themselves, to show the kids that you’re not trying to wedge yourself into their relationship.
It’s also important to not expect too much, too soon. Hopefully the kids will grow to love and trust you, and each other, but you can’t rush those things. It might take years to establish a really close and loving relationship. That’s worth the wait.
Christmas is a special time for children and therefore for their parents too. This holiday, which traditionally involves the family unit, can be difficult for separated parents, especially when their children are not with them for Christmas. We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions by co-parents during the run-up to December 24 and solutions to some of them in order to revive the magic of Christmas for them in their own way.
Who will have custody of the children this year?
Divorced parents are often very fussy about compliance with childcare during the holiday season. To avoid a family crisis that would disturb children, it is better to update your custody calendar several months in advance. Sandrine says: ” My children will spend Christmas Eve and Christmas day with me and my family this year. It alternates every year with my ex-husband and I think it is very suitable for everyone because nobody feels cheated “. In all cases, do not ask children to choose which parent they want to spend Christmas with as this would undermine their sense of loyalty towards the excluded parent.
What gift will I give to my daughter or my son?
After a separation, you may feel guilty towards your children, or jealous towards the former spouse. Subsequently in some families, there is a competition for who can give the most expensive gift for Christmas. The relationship with the co-parent is not a competition and the child can quickly understand the mechanism and take advantage of this weakness to get what he or she wants. David explains: “My ex-wife does not have the same financial means as me, which creates some tension with the approach of Christmas or birthdays. After a few unfortunate episodes, we made an effort to consult each other before the holidays to prevent our daughter from being a witness to our differences. Sometimes we offer a bigger, common gift.”
Should I invite my ex to the party for the benefit of my children?
Why not, if you still share some affection . But it should not raise false hopes. A child can lose his bearings when his separated parents meet and give the impression of a family unit. Be careful too about the organizational nightmare that this can create with in step families: what about new family members and their children?
This is my first Christmas divorced with kids
Unconsciously or not, many separated parents are hit by nostalgia which can invade Christmas. Jean-François has become habituated to inviting his two teenagers to a restaurant with his new girlfriend: ” I found myself alone, desperate to organize a perfect Eve. It quickly turned into a culinary fiasco. Since then, I reserve a good restaurant, and on Christmas Eve we go out”. Martine has made a clean sweep of her former life: “It reminded me too much of old memories. I decided to change all the dishes, table decoration and especially the menu. Finish the game, and flash garlands”. Separation, it changes people. It is normal for family traditions to evolve to better match the new life of each. And if you feel better as well, the children will be the ones to benefit.
This is my first Christmas divorced without my children
Separated parents agree that this is a difficult moment to go through. “After a few years, one tends to become experienced” says Sandra, who found tricks to not spend Christmas alone. ” I made new friends who are mostly like me. We take the opportunity to meet on Christmas Eve and have a good time without getting depressed. I know my children are with their father so I do not let myself worry about them “. You have to reassure yourself: there will be other Christmases you’ll spend with the children and we have the whole year to spend with them. This is the moment to take care of yourself.
And you? Does this time of year particularly affect you after your separation? What are your experiences or your new Christmas traditions? Share your experiences here
Your marital relationship is over, but what about your relationship with your in-laws, their relationship with your children, or even your relationship with your ex-spouse’s new lover? What is healthy and appropriate? Since no one has written the new rules and codes of social conduct for relationships engendered by divorce, we asked some experts to share their insights with us.
Everyone knows at least one divorce horror story, but we seldom hear about people who have established friendly post-divorce associations with each other. “Did you hear that Hugh and Liz are getting along well these days?” just isn’t news. Armed with their version of divorce hell, the skeptics tell us it’s impossible for a divorced couple to make peace and become friends. They outtalk the quiet and peaceful believers — perhaps because people who are doing just fine don’t feel the need to vent. “If every divorce were a ‘War of the Roses’, there would be blood on the streets!” points out Barbara Quick, author of Still Friends: Living Happily Ever After…Even if your Marriage Falls Apart.
Luckily, it’s never too late to make peace. With determination and good intentions, you can overcome the anger, grief, and sadness of losing a marriage and eventually — believe it or not — achieve friendship. Whether or not you want to be “friends” with your ex is a decision in itself, but if you have children together, finding a way to be amicable with your co-parent makes life a lot easier. Your former in-laws don’t have to disappear with the marriage either, especially if you’ve always enjoyed a good relationship with them. Unfortunately there’s no rule book for cultivating civility with your ex-spouse, your former in-laws, or even your ex’s new spouse — so we asked several experts — including people who have managed to create friendly post-divorce relationships — for some guidance. Here’s what they had to say:
Ex-spouse, New Friend?
When the divorce process has pitted you and your spouse against each other, training you to view each other as enemies, any form of future alliance can seem impossible. But if you have children, your ex-spouse is still your co-parent. “It’s difficult for separated partners to remain productive co-parents when the legal process is making them enemies,” says Lillian Messinger, a Toronto marriage counselor who specializes in post-divorce relationships. It takes a lot of maturity to make amends with the person who has torn apart your life, or who has been a monster in court. But just as it takes two to determine the marriage dynamic, it takes two to make a good — or bad — divorce. Quick emphasizes that “every couple has their own relationship dance. All you have to do is change your part in the dance.” If you change your behavior, your relationship will change, too.
Mark and Sara (not their real names) were married for 12 years, and have now been divorced for three. “The first couple years of our marriage was pretty good, but it went downhill rapidly,” says Sara. “For the last six years, we communicated in snarls, or through our son, Peter. A friend encouraged us to try mediation, and during the process we started to really talk for the first time in years. The mediator encouraged us to remember what we used to like about each other as we established our co-parenting relationship, and how to listen and ‘mine for the gold’ in what we said to each other.” Both Sara and Mark report that their relationship is better post-divorce than it ever was when they were married. “We are much better as friends than as a couple,” says Mark. “Some of the things that really bug you in a spouse just don’t matter in a friend. For Peter’s sake, we were committed to working on our co-parenting relationship, and the happy side-effect is that we really like each other these days — which wasn’t the case during our marriage.”
However well or poorly you knew your former spouse, this will be an exercise in re-acquaintance. Forming a relationship with your ex is entirely separate from the process of ending a marriage; if you work through the process to achieve your “emotional divorce,” you can cultivate something entirely new. Your old relationship is over; take the steps to heal so that you can invest your energy elsewhere.
Grieving the death of a marriage is like mourning any other loss: it hurts a lot, and you get through it minute by minute. The trick is to stay on the path to recovery, not stopping at the first challenge. In her research for Still Friends, Quick found that a pattern emerged among those who had successfully recovered from divorce. The process that begins with anger and grieving eventually leads to healing, forgiveness, and insight. “Acknowledge the stage you’re at, and allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling. Most people get stuck in anger and grieving,” says Quick, adding that “Everyone has a unique healing process. Some people go through it on their hands and knees, spending months at every stage, others go through it at high speed.”
Healing and moving on can take years, but communication with your ex may have to continue both during and after your divorce. If you have children, you will have to discuss the details of their lives. Whether weekly or monthly, these chats are going to develop a personality. They might be draining, dreadful, stressful, infuriating, and frustrating — or they could be just fine.
When a divorced couple has children, life can get very complicated. Each parent is now on their own and suddenly realize all of the small things they did not notice when they had the other parent to back them up. Parents of babies and toddlers are tested by late nights and early mornings, with no one to alternate sleep, feedings, changing, and difficult nights with. Mothers and fathers of school aged children have to handle the morning routine: getting the kids to school, meeting with teachers, and driving the kids to after-school activities, all on their own. Managing life after divorce as a parent is not easy, but life will get back to normal much faster if steps are taken to deal with the challenges, instead of just hoping for a solution.
Struggles of Single Parents
Going through a divorce and living with divorce are very complicated life events which statistics show that many people in this country go through. Below are the two main challenges for single parents:
This can be tricky one when the other parent doesn’t want to play nice. Developing a set schedule, if at all possible, for visitations will make it a little easier to figure out childcare. After visitation is established, each parent needs to find their own sitters or agree on one childcare or babysitter for both schedules. Both parents should have their own backup in case help bails at the last moment. This will keep the other parent from having to cancel their own plans to watch the children.
1. Be Proactive
2. Streamline Communication
3. Double-Check Everything
4. Keep Things the Same as Possible Between Houses
5. Make Respect and Compassion Priorities
Perhaps one of the most challenging conversations you’ll have as a separating parent is with your children. Throughout their lives, you’ve made their wellbeing a priority. Coming to them with news of your breakup may be emotionally devastating. But regardless of how well you know your children, their reactions may still surprise you. Try to keep the conversation age-appropriate. Remind your children that their parents’ divorce does not mean the loss of their family.
Have the Conversation as a Family
Your children should all be part of the conversation. Try to sit down with your spouse and all of your kids at the same time to discuss the divorce. By presenting a united front with your spouse, you minimize tension and prevent feelings of resentment towards one parent or the other. You want to reassure your children the break up is not their fault and that they will remain loved. The feeling of togetherness of a group talk supports this idea that they are not losing the people closest to them.
Prepare Your Main Messages Beforehand
In the moment, you may forget to tell your children what they most need to hear. That’s why you and your spouse should jot down the key things you want to say. In part, this can be things such as, “we have tried to fix our problems, but it hasn’t worked,” “you will always be loved, now just in two houses instead of one,” “we are still a family even though we no longer live together” and “you didn’t do anything to cause this to happen.” You can introduce them to the 2houses site and explain how the family will remain connected.
Remain Aware of Your Child’s Concerns
The age of your children determines how they see the world. As a result, what worries them most will depend on their stage of development. A preschooler is still largely dependent on her parents and may need reassurance they will still be fed, cared for and played with. As kids get a bit older, they are more aware of their feelings. They may have important social connections outside the family, so they may be concerned about moving or going to a new school.
Listen Actively to Their Questions
The conversation should leave ample time for questions. You may have to encourage your children, whatever their age, to ask whatever is on their minds. These questions may provide greater insight into your children’s world and may bring up issues you have not yet resolved. Your children may ask anything from what caused the breakup to whether the siblings will still live together and where the pets will reside. Be honest, but don’t overwhelm children with too much information. Always circle back to key issues of support, comfort and reassurance regardless of the challenging questions.
Keep the Conversation Going
After you’ve told your children that you are going to divorce, there will be a transition period of many months. Depending on the circumstances, you and your spouse may continue to live together for a period of time or one spouse may move out immediately. It may be a while before co parenting schedules are finalized, placing additional uncertainty and stress on the children. Using 2houses, the family can start to work out the details of new schedules and find out what works for everyone.
Because these changes directly impact your children’s day-to-day lives, it’s essential to do what you can to maintain their stability. Make them feel safe and reassure them you are always available to talk about what’s going on. Together, you can ease into your new lives while helping your children maintain their emotional health. In an ideal world, all they need to worry about is growing up.
After a divorce, you have to try to regain a normal life. This includes getting your personal life and your professional life back together. Despite anything you may be going through, you can’t let your work and home life suffer. In particular, you need to focus on keeping your children’s lives as stable as possible. This might seem a bit overwhelming, but with a few tips and the right tools, you can reconcile your professional and private life even when you’re separated.
Your private life describes anything having to do with your family such as your children, your ex partner, your friends, your home and etc. It’s easy to let your personal life get away from you a bit during your split up. To keep on the right track, make sure you continue to schedule time to be with your friends. A lady’s or man’s night out might be just what you need to get back into the groove of socializing. Plus, it’s an excellent way to keep your mind off occupied. Make sure you call up your friends still on a regular basis, so you don’t lose touch with them while you’re focusing on your life. Don’t forget about your family either. They can make this process easier on you. Find a family friendly activities for you and the kids to do, which will be good for both of you. Your kids will enjoy a little bit extra of your time.
Your professional life includes every aspect of your job from the actual work part to the lunches you take. A separation may lead to you not performing on the job as well as you did before the breakup. You may not feel the urge to go out with co-workers or participate in events held by the company. The best thing you can do is to participate and get involved. Keep your mind active, and your attention geared toward the positive. Use your break to vent. Try writing in a journal during your 30-minute or 15-minute break to keep your emotions in check, so you don’t feel the need to mix your personal life with your professional life. Maybe use your commute to work as your time to think about everything, so you avoid bringing your personal life into the workplace. Promise yourself to leave your feelings at the door, meaning as soon as you walk in, your thoughts automatically convert to business.
Balancing Your Children and the Rest of Your Life
Once you go through the process of separation, you’ll need to learn to get your life back on track along with learning to deal with your professional and personal life with your children who need you more than ever right now. Firstly, schedule dinner time every night for you to sit down as a family and stay connected. You’ll feel better and so will your children. The next order of business you need to consider is that you may be responsible for more now that you have the kids by yourself for at least a few days.
Fortunately, 2houses has a calendar to keep everything from your children’s life to your private and professional life in order. 2houses also has an info bank section that allows you and your ex to create an address book and a list of medical information online for both of you to be able to view and edit, making it easier for you to juggle everything. You’re able to share documents as well.
With so much going on, you might feel a bit overwhelmed. Everything will get back to order in due time. Most importantly, by take time out for yourself and using 2houses, you’ll have the ability to maintain balance. So do not hesitate to check it now, it’s free!
Divorce is an unfortunate event that some families have to overcome. The separation of the parents isn’t just about the parents; it has a huge impact on the children as well. The feelings of negativity and resentment between a former couple can make the children uncomfortable and make the adjustment to the separation even more difficult. This is why it’s so vital for you to put aside your feelings for the children.
1. Never vent to your children
Your children do not want to hear how their father is a lying, cheating, so and so… They don’t want to hear how you’re sick of their mother bringing her boyfriend to pick up the children. Remember, they’re going through a lot right now, and if you have nothing nice to say about your ex-partner, then you shouldn’t say anything at all. You don’t want to negatively influence your children’s feelings for their other parent.
2. Get your frustration out somewhere
Yes, you probably still have hurt feelings over the break up. You may cry yourself to sleep every night and wish nothing but bad on your former lover. However, you should take your frustrations out before you have to meet up with your ex. This means you shouldn’t remind your ex about everything wrong he did and that’s why the children should come to your house for the holidays. If you have to, start boxing or doing some other form of exercise to release stress. Talk to a therapist, friend or family member if you have to, but make sure you direct your anger at someone or something else other than your ex.
3. Focus on the kids
Keep reminding yourself that you must be civil for the kids. When you speak to their other parent, don’t even mention anything about the time you spent together. Instead, keep the conversation on issues related to the children such as their education and who will pick them up from their friends’ houses this weekend.
4. Ask don’t demand
Nobody likes to be told what they have to do, especially by a former partner. Always begin conversations where you want something with a question. For instance, say, “Is it okay if I take the kids this weekend and you take them next weekend?”
No matter what your sentiments about your ex are, always be willing to compromise. You don’t need to fight battles about little issues like bedtimes or when they do their homework. However, with bigger issues, you’ll need to come to an agreement and that requires you both to give a little.
6. Keep the other parent in the loop
Put aside your feelings of hostility and tell your ex what happens with the children. While you might not want your ex hubby going to a school play with his new squeeze, he should still know about it. It’s not fair to him or the kids not to let him know.
While this may not sound like it’s in your best interest, it really is. Your children are your primary focus and you don’t want to do anything that could sever a relationship with them, even if it means being nice to someone who hurt you.