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Why should you consider holidays and vacations when creating a parenting plan?

You may have addressed a large number of details when discussing your parenting plan. You may have drawn out your weekly schedule, outlined how you and your ex will handle school events and even addressed who will pick up your child if they become sick during the school day. However, holidays and vacations can interrupt that well-thought-out routine.

Why should your parenting plan address holidays and vacations?

Holidays and vacations are valuable time for families.

Yearly vacations and holidays provide parents with time to spend with their child. They may relax at home, pursue new adventures or see relatives that are often too far away during the rest of the year. Because this time is so valuable, discussing holidays and vacations when creating a parenting plan is an important way for both parents to feel heard and to avoid future conflict.

How can parents address holidays?

Because holidays occur on the same day or around the same time each year, you and your ex can handle these days in a variety of different ways. Some of these options include:

  • Make time for parenting time on both sides for each major holiday — For parents who live near each other and value spending time together on every holiday, sharing holidays may be a good option. For example, the kids may spend Thanksgiving morning with one parent, then travel to the other parent’s home in the afternoon.
  • Alternate holidays every year — If you and your ex spend time with out-of-town family, travel or simply want to spend the whole day with your child on a holiday, trading holidays might be a fair solution. One parent may have the kids for Thanksgiving, for example, then have their child at home for Christmas the next year.
  • Allow parents to claim specific holidays — Are Christmas, Easter or other religious an important part of your religious practice? Is Thanksgiving a particularly important gathering for your family? Do you host a neighborhood event every year on the Fourth of July? If specific holidays have special meaning to you, you may want to divide holidays according to which are most important to each parent.

How will you handle travel and other vacations?

Long trips during school breaks are a great opportunity for children to experience new things with their parents. However, it can be important for parents to outline how they will address vacations. How long in advance do plans need to be made? How will you address the non-traveling parent’s lost time with the children if a vacation interrupts your usual custody schedule? Can the non-traveling parent schedule a phone call halfway through the week to touch base with their child and provide a sense of stability?

By addressing holidays and vacations as a part of your parenting plan, you can avoid conflict and focus on experiencing these special times with your family.