4 Tips for Crafting a Holiday Parenting Schedule


The holidays can be a difficult time for people who have recently gone through a divorce. This is especially true if you have young children. One of the most challenging items to navigate during the holidays, especially if it is your first post-divorce holiday season, will be how to share parenting time.

Our family law attorneys always discuss these issues with our clients during the divorce process in order to set the tone for a smooth holiday season. Ultimately, the best holiday parenting plans are crafted when both parents are able to communicate clearly and honestly. The following tips will help you navigate the process.

Figure Out what Is Most Important to You

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Before you and your ex sit down to craft a holiday parenting schedule, you should take some time to figure out what celebrations and traditions are most important to you. Do you typically do a big family gathering on Christmas Eve? Is Christmas Day more important to spend with the kids?

Knowing the times that matter most to you will help you prioritize your needs and set your agenda for the negotiating process. It will also help you ensure that your extended family will be able to spend some time with your children over the holidays.

Be Prepared to Compromise

In a perfect world, you and your ex will have entirely different priorities for holiday parenting time. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case. While it’s important to come to negotiations with an understanding of what is most important to you, it’s equally important to realize that you may not be able to get everything at the top of your wish list.

The best holiday parenting plans are crafted in the spirit of compromise. If you are willing to give up something that is important to you, it’s more likely that your ex will be willing to do the same. That way, you both get some time with the children during the moments that will be most meaningful to you.

One great way to approach the Christmas holiday is for one parent to have the children on Christmas Eve while the other parent gets Christmas Day. Expressing this option to your ex can set the tone for compromise upfront.

Be Creative and Create New Family Holiday Traditions

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Splitting holiday parenting time may mean that you have to get creative and flexible with your family traditions. You may not be able to decorate the tree on same day as previous years if that is the time your ex gets the kids. You may also have to talk to your extended family about switching the day you all celebrate together in order to have this gathering align with your parenting time.

While it may feel odd at first, you and your children will adjust to the new routine. If you are open to establishing new traditions, you will find that you still get to experience the same great quality time with your kids over the holidays.

Propose Several Options for Splitting Parenting Time

The more potential options you have for splitting parenting time, the easier it will be for you and your spouse to agree on a mutually beneficial solution. If you have three to four options, it is more likely that one will work for both of you than if you are tied to one specific plan.

Consider the following options as a starting point:

  • Alternate holidays every other year – This will ensure that each parent never goes more than a year without celebrating a particular holiday with the children.
  • Split the holiday in half – This option requires a little more effort. If both parents are willing to make this work, you can consider having the children spend part of the day with each parent. It’s important to consider travel time with this arrangement. For this to work well, you will need to figure out holiday plans that minimize the amount of time your kids spend getting from one parent to the other.
  • Schedule the holiday twice – Why does Christmas need to be celebrated on December 25? You can schedule your Christmas celebration for a different day during that week and make the day equally special.
  • Assign fixed holidays – If you and your ex have different holidays that are important to each of you, then you can have a set schedule that allows each of you to get your favorite holiday time every year.

You can also blend elements of each option together in order to arrive at the best solution for your family’s unique needs. The more options you start with, the easier it will be to get creative with solutions.

Contact our Sarasota Family Law Attorneys

If you need assistance with a divorce or family law matter, please contact Syprett Meshad using the form on this page or call 941-365-7171 today to schedule a consultation. We serve clients in Sarasota, Bradenton and the surrounding areas of Florida.