Four Strategies for Surviving Spring Break and Other School Holidays
School holidays like spring break or summer vacation can be a cause of contention between divorced or separated parents. With school out for a whole week or even several months, it is imperative that co-parents decide how the kids will spend this time sooner rather than later. Holiday custody should be decided when co-parents are working out the rest of their custody schedule, but with so much to think about during that time, spring break and other school holidays can easily be looked over. This can make surviving school holidays harder for parents in the end. If spring break or other school holidays are approaching in your schedule, here are four strategies to help you and your family survive the holiday.
Know when it starts and ends: School holidays are unusual because their dates tend to vary somewhat year by year. While this won't matter much to your kids, it can greatly affect your schedule and other plans if you don't take this into account. Check the school schedule as early as possible so that you know what dates spring break and other school holidays fall on this year and in upcoming years. Also, take into account holidays that fall on a Monday. For instance, if your parenting schedule says that you will have your kids over the spring break school holiday this year, you'll need to know whether your agreement says that your holiday custody schedule starts after school on Friday or if it starts on Monday. Same goes for when the holiday ends: know whether your holiday custody schedule calls for you to have the kids through the following weekend or if holiday custody ends on Friday. If your custody schedule does not specify how to handle the weekends before a holiday that starts on a Monday, follow your regular custody exchange routine. If you have concerns or doubts about your holiday custody schedule, speak with your attorney as soon as possible.
Consider your work schedule: As a parent, spring break and other school holidays can throw a wrench in your work schedule. While your kids are typically in school through your work day, school holidays take them out of school and leave you to determine how they will spend their time. While time off policies vary from job to job, most employers require that employees make requests for one or more days off well ahead of time. If you hope to take off time from work over your kids' school holiday, do so as soon as possible. This will help to improve your odds of getting the time off that you desire. If you cannot take time off over spring break or other school holiday and you are scheduled to have custody, make plans for your kids to be supervised during the break. Local YMCA programs can be a great option that keeps your kids supervised while having them participate in activities and field trips each day. You may also consider taking your kids to visit extended family over this holiday. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other relatives may have more availability in their schedules and will likely appreciate the opportunity to be with your kids for a few days.
Document your plan: Getting your spring break and other school holiday plans documented on a custody calendar is just as important as planning them in the first place. When documented, your plans can be referenced by you and your co-parent at any time, but this is only true if you share a custody calendar. Paper calendars aren't easily shared, and some web calendars aren't equipped to document a custody schedule on top of other events without getting messy. To help co-parents keep their plan concrete and shared, the OurFamilyWizard website offers calendaring tools that are designed specifically for documenting custody schedules. Your regular custody schedule is clearly documented as a colored bar across the top of each date on the calendar. Your holiday custody schedule is then integrated into your regular custody schedule so that it is clearly documented without interrupting your regular schedule's pattern. This creates more space on the calendar for scheduling events that will take place over each of those days.
Have fun: Spring break and other school holidays are special times for kids. They get a break from classes, homework, and everything else involved with school. Even though you may feel some stress when it comes to figuring out how to integrate these school holidays into your own personal schedule, do all you can to at least have a little fun yourself. Whether you get to take each of the holidays off from work or not, come up with a few simple plans that let you have some fun with your kids. Make a special breakfast on a weekday, go get ice cream after dinner, go to your local science museum or zoo over the weekend, or stay up with your kids a little later one night to watch a movie. Even if you just can squeeze in one or two fun things, your kids will remember these long after the holiday is over.
Spring break and other school holidays can be hard to deal with sometimes, but these are important dates for kids. While a divorce or separation can make planning for these dates more complicated, there are things that co-parents can do in order to make doing so easier. Know your custody plan for school holidays and follow it. Plan ahead for school holidays that you are scheduled to have custody on by checking your work schedule and requesting days off early if need be. Document your plan on a shared custody calendar using calendaring tools that make it easy to share information across two homes. Last but not least, have fun! Enjoy these school holidays by creating great memories with your kids.
The OurFamilyWizard website is committed to providing divorced or separated parents with tools that allow them to more easily manage holiday custody schedules across multiple homes. Learn more about the calendaring tools and other features offered by the OurFamilyWizard website.
NOTE: Many state and federal laws use terms like ‘custody’ when referring to arrangements regarding parenting time and decision-making for a child. While this has been the case for many years, these are not the only terms currently used to refer to these topics.
Today, many family law practitioners and even laws within certain states use terms such as ‘parenting arrangements’ or ‘parenting responsibility,’ among others, when referring to matters surrounding legal and physical child custody. You will find these terms as well as custody used on the OurFamilyWizard website.