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Coping with school holidays after divorce and separation

The holidays can be stressful for parents, from organising childcare, finances to keeping the children entertained for weeks on end. But the first holiday period following separation or divorce can be even more difficult. Whether it’s the prospect of a new routine, further negotiations or the reality of holidaying separately, the path doesn’t always run smoothly.

So how can parents agree a holiday schedule that works? Rachel Weiss, an experienced counsellor and member of CCS who founded the Perth based Rowan Consultancy, offers her expert advice:

  1. Get organised: Plan holidays and childcare arrangements in advance, giving plenty of notice to ex partners before booking anything. Use calendars to keep each other informed and on track to prevent miscommunication or arguments down the line.
  2. Put children first: Remember the interests and happiness of your children are the most important thing. They can pick up on negative emotions easily so try to keep any heated discussions to a minimum. If the children are old enough, perhaps include them in some of the decision making so that they feel included – it will be a new experience for them too holidaying with one parent.
  3. Communication: Communicate with your ex-partner as a co-parent. Be considerate, fair and cooperative. The more information you share about what the children can do/will need on holiday, the less anxious you will feel about letting them go. Expect to keep in touch with your ex-partner with small updates on the holiday, particularly if going abroad to let them know the flight arrived safely etc.
  4. Manage emotions: Holidaying as a single parent or seeing your children leave with your ex-partner may bring up a lot of different feelings, of resentment, sadness, loneliness, anxiety or guilt, all of which are totally normal.

Recognising them and dealing with them in a healthy way rather than letting things escalate and go sour is the main thing.

Remember that divorce isn’t just between two people; consider grandparents, the wider family, exes’ partners and their children, who will all want to spend time with the children over the holidays.

If you have a good relationship with your ex-spouse, you may want to consider sharing previous family traditions, if you can handle these without tensions and fights it may help children adjust to these new
experiences.

If you’re experiencing the school holidays for the first time as a separated parent, contact one of our professionals for any further information.