Each year presents a holiday season and another chance to try a more successful approach in child visitation. No parent wants to make children suffer through holiday seasons in the process of visitation. Here are a few suggestions on how you can help make visitation schedules go as smooth as possible during the holiday season.
Go back to your agreed upon plan
Whether you've been divorced for a while or you're newly divorced, it's better to go back to your agreed upon parenting and visitation plan and work from it. One suggestion that works would be for your children to spend the holidays with parents in alternating years. If you're in the process of getting a divorce and are anticipating problems with things like this in child custody, then all the more reason to focus on making a visitation and parenting plan that's flexible but agreeable to both you and your spouse.
Be organized about important dates
No matter how well you plan your year, the fact is that there will be important dates in your children's lives that will not be easy to plan such as their graduation, recitals, school christmas productions and the likes. It's best if you log that down in a calendar as soon as you get an exact date on it. If that's not readily available yet, try to make the weeks around the probable date as flexible as possible. Make sure also that you involve your ex with any updates about the schedule or changes to the schedule of your child. In other words, give your ex the chance to get involved.
Teach your kids to prioritize
It's a good idea to get your children involved with structuring a schedule. Sometimes your children will need to sacrifice a few social events in favor of family gatherings. It's important that your child understands how to prioritize events. Encourage them to be open with you about why they think one event should take priority over another. Because of the fact that their parents will be divorced, they'll encounter a lot of these kinds of situations in the future.
Teach your kids to speak up
Children who have divorced parents will need to learn how to communicate their preferences, needs and wants to their parents. This is especially true when children deal with arranging schedules with non-custodial parents. Being open and honest about their preferences will help parents be more flexible and prepared for the holiday visitations. For custodial parents, it may be very tempting to do the talking themselves, but learning how to communicate their preferences properly is a life skill you shouldn't deprive your children of.
Be understanding and flexible
It's helpful if the parents will agree to be as understanding and flexible as possible whenever their children would prefer to spend their holiday visitation time in a different way. Depending on the relationship between the parents and their extended families, some people find it awkward to have everybody at the same time in the same gathering. It might work better if each family gathering scheduled their get together a week before or after the date of the holiday itself. It would be great if both parents agreed to hear out their children if they prefer to spend holiday visitation time differently. If the children want to attend a school gathering or got invited over a friend's house on the date of the visitation, try to think of a way to make up for the date rather than just objecting to it.
Don't take it personally
The temptation is great between divorced couples to compare the quantity and quality of time their children spend with them. However, this kind of mindset is not helpful on parents' relationship with their children. It would be more helpful to listen to the request closely rather than interpret it as a rejection from them.
Holiday seasons are opportunities for family members to work around their differences and enjoy the seasons together. It's worth the effort to try and make the holiday seasons as pleasant or at least hassle-free to your children as possible.