Summer Break, Holidays & Birthdays: How to Handle Special Days in Visitation Schedules

These are the days your children will look back on after they’ve gone off to college. With some planning and good communication with your ex-spouse, sharing these precious days will be problem-free. If you’ve already agreed upon a very specific schedule for holidays and breaks, scheduling should be easy. And, if you and your ex-spouse have been flexible with modifying the existing visitation schedule or have been able to work things out—that’s even better.

However, if you don’t have a firm schedule in place, other parents have come up with creative solutions. Here are some ideas to help you find the best solution for all of you.

Visitation During Summer Break… For When Both Parents Work

In most families, both parents work, making it difficult to ask one parent to care for the children all day long for three months.

  • If both parents are in the same city, consider using the same child-care provider to keep things consistent for the children, even if it means commuting a bit further than during the school year.
  • There are many day-camp options for all ages that cost about the same as child-care centers. The children will be able to spend time outdoors, have plenty of exercise and enjoy meeting new friends.
  • Parents who live close to each other can consider sharing the expense of hiring a high school student who can watch the children at home, help with driving them to activities or even prepare dinner for the kids if you work late.
  • Consider allowing the other parent to take the children on vacation, even if it happens to be during your scheduled visitation time. The kids will be thrilled to have a block of time with either of you in a fun, unstressed environment.
  • Start planning for the next summer at the beginning of each school year. That way, both parents can schedule time-off from work, reserve summer camps that may fill-up quickly and purchase less expensive plane tickets. This exercise can be especially helpful when one parent or grandparents live out of town.

How to Handle Holidays and Birthdays

On holidays and birthdays, try to think about what is best for your children. Most children would love to see both of their parents on these special days. Admittedly, it is not easy to coordinate schedules for visiting extended family members, new in-laws, or step-families when everyone wants to spend holidays with the children on the same day.
Fortunately, it is quite common now for families to celebrate holidays and birthdays on weekends or the day or evening before. Schedule children’s birthday parties on weekends or when both parents are available to be there. Consider hosting it at a neutral location where it is easier to avoid any conflict with your ex-spouse. Often, age-appropriate restaurants or activities cost the same or less than a party at home would.

Your Children Will Thank You Later

At holiday and birthday times, it is hard not to want your children all to yourself. Yet, as much as your children love you and want to spend time with you, they feel the same about their other parent. That’s sometimes difficult to acknowledge, even though it’s true. Try your best to put your children’s best interests first.
If you have questions, we are here to help. Call an experienced attorney to help with custody and visitation questions.