Nuclear families often have annual holiday traditions. A family may spend each Thanksgiving with paternal grandparents, Easter with a favorite uncle and Christmas Eve at church services with maternal grandparents. Kids look forward to these annual traditions.
However, if parents divorce, kids are split, often into alternating holidays. A traditional holiday parenting schedule may look something like this:
- Easter: even years with mom, odd years with dad 9 am to 6 pm
- July 4th: even years with dad, odd years with mom 9 am overnight to 9 am
- Halloween: even years with mom, odd years with dad 9 am overnight to 9 am
- Thanksgiving: even years with dad, odd years with mom 9 am to 6 pm
- Christmas Eve: even years with mom, odd years with dad 12 pm overnight to 12 pm
- Christmas Day: even years with dad, odd years with mom 12 pm overnight to 12 pm
While this schedule may provide the opportunity to have holiday time every two years with their children, it does not have the continuity the children were used to before the divorce.
I had a client suggest an idea that I thought was brilliant. Instead of alternating, each parent would have set holidays. Under this idea, the kids could enjoy 4th of July every year at mom’s family’s summer camp, host dad’s family for turkey and football on Thanksgiving and continue going to church on Christmas Eve with their maternal grandparents. The parents could still alternate the Christmas overnight, but maintain a consistent, fixed schedule for the remaining holiday time. The parent who does not have parenting time on a holiday can still plan celebrations around a holiday. For example, the non-holiday parent can bring the children to an Easter egg hunt, fireworks, or a haunted house adventure during their parenting time.