When the holidays approach, it can be a stressful time of year. As someone who is divorced or who is getting divorced, you want to make sure your child still gets to enjoy the holidays with both parents, but what can you do when a holiday only lasts for a single day? Is it fair to split the day in two parts, or should parents exchange visitation times each year? Here are three ways you can split up the holidays to be fair to your child.
Split the school break
The first thing you can do is to look at your child's school break. If it's two weeks long, for example, consider splitting it down the middle. Around Christmas, that might mean from Dec. 23 through Jan. 6 is vacation time.
To split it, allow your child to spend Dec. 23 through Dec. 30 at one home and then go to the other for the remaining time. This means that one parent will have both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with your child, while the other has New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. Switch who spends this time with the child each year to make it fair.
Share the holiday
In situations where you and your ex get along, consider sharing the holiday by taking your child to a location where you both can celebrate Christmas with him or her. For some children, having both parents or both families together is fun and exciting. For families that get along, this can be a good time to meet up and talk about what's going on in each other's lives. This can be particularly helpful in situations where step-siblings are involved, since all the kids can get together and enjoy each other's company.
Schedule the holiday twice
Another way to make sure your child gets to spend time with both families on a holiday is to schedule the celebration on a day other than the actual holiday. For example, if you celebrate Christmas on Dec. 28, then your child can celebrate with your family and his or her other family on Christmas Day. This way, your child gets the best of both worlds and doesn't have to miss out on important bonding time with his or her family members. If you split the holiday itself in half, that can also work, but it can feel rushed for your child, knowing the day has to be broken up at a certain hour arrived upon by you and your ex.
Creating a parenting plan before the holidays helps you work out the best way to manage them. A legal professional can help you negotiate a plan that works well for your situation.