The heat is on.
What does it mean to set a holiday schedule? In many ways, it is an exercise in controlling your emotions and a realization that you will be missing some of the holidays, some of the time.
The good news is that this is often the easiest part of any separation as the time allotted to each parent is really set fairly securely in stone by the courts.
The most difficult aspect of this is summer, so lets deal with this first. The permutations on summer visitation are extensive, but fall into a few categories.
Set vacation period
Most parents still continue to work during the summer, and as such, the summer visitation schedule is really more of a time that we try and figure out what our children can do during the day when we are at work so that they don’t get themselves into trouble. Accordingly, the custodial arrangement will still be the same and each parent will have one or two weeks during the summer for “vacation”. This is not necessary a time to leave town, but is often just simply uninterrupted visitation time. This can be two consecutive weeks or two non-consecutive 7 day periods.
However, some of the pitfalls that should be avoided are the dreaded tacking on of days. For instance: If it is my weekend, then I set my visitation to start on Sunday night for seven days, which really means that I end up with 9 or 10 days for my vacation period. This is fine, if everyone understands this and is on board with the concept. Then, it is fair to everyone and prevents arguments. If you think that you will say 7 days for vacation and then tack on time, you will find yourself in a battle later on down the road.
If “vacation” period is the choice of the parents for summer visitation, then you need to set up a rubric to decide who wins on the rare occasion when both parents want the same week. The best situation is to decide that in odd year one parent chooses vacation period by May 1 (or an earlier date if you or your ex are a planner) and in even years the other parent chooses the weeks by May 1.
This is self-explanatory and is often attractive as a way to both have a break (because let’s face it, we all need a break), and to insure that the custodial parent has some good quality time with the child when they are not in school. However, remember that the same rules apply in reference to your child’s sense of security. Just because it makes sense to you, doesn’t mean that it makes any sense to your child. They thrive on consistency and often need this as a means of establishing a home base. Summer is also the time that the kids are playing outside a lot and the absence of the child every other week can have an affect on his social relationship with the neighbors children.
One-Half the Summer
Occasionally parents will split the summer in the middle and exchange. This is rarely a good idea and usually reserved for parents who live far apart.
This flips the schedule so that each parent has the other parents custodial schedule for the summer months. This is always a viable option as it allows the non-primary parent to get a sense of the day to day activities. Again, this may present an issue for the child who thrives on consistency in his day to day life.