Your Co-Parenting Guide to the Summer Holidays & a Joyful Christmas

November 10, 2023

The festive season is upon us, with the Chrissie decoration adorning the shopping centre and carols heralding the arrival of summer school holidays and Christmas. For parents navigating the post-separation world, this time can bring unique challenges along with the tinsel and lights. As a family law firm deeply invested in the wellbeing of you and your family as you move into your next chapter, we’re here to guide you through making this season one of summer fun, joy and new traditions. 

Today’s blog is going to share with you our 5 tips to planning for the upcoming summer holidays and Christmas festivities, to take away the stress and anxiety you may be having about how to navigate this time of year. 

Navigating School Holiday Logistics with Care

The details matter when arranging your co-parenting holiday schedule. Consider travel time, holiday events, and how to manage the exchange of children between homes. The summer school holidays are start on 8 December 2023 so it is a good time to revisit any parenting plan or parenting order you already have in place to ensure you’re clear on the schedule for the holidays.  

If you don’t have a formal agreement in place with your Ex, now is the perfect time to get a plan in place. This plan should include a framework for: 

  • the day to day arrangements for the children during the school holidays; 
  • the time the children will be with each parent during the Christmas period; 
  • sharing travel itineraries;  
  • communicating with the children when they are with the other parent; and 
  • how and when the children will transition between each parent’s home.  

There are no limitations about what this plan should look like. There is no one-size fits all approachThe kind of holiday arrangements that are going to suit your children may be very different to what occurred while you and your Ex were together and may look different to a friends co-parenting schedule. When developing a framework for you family focus on: 

  • your children’s needs and wellbeing; 
  • their personalities; 
  • each parent’s work schedule and commitments; 
  • each parent’s holiday leave plans; and  
  • how your children will cope and adjust to extended periods away from each parent. If you’re separation is recent, your children may not be ready to spend 1 to 2 weeks away from one or both parents. This is completely okay, craft a schedule that works for your children and remember, nothing is set in stone. This first year may look different to next year once a little more time has transpired, and they’ve adjusted to their new normal. 

Thoughtful and intentional planning can make all the difference. It will ensure the children understand the plan and have comfort knowing that they will see both of their parents during the holidays and Christmas period. It also gives you certainty to plan activities and holiday fun for when the kids are with you and to create a plan for when they are not.   

This level of planning will support you and your children to relax and enjoy a season that should be about summer fun, and joyful celebrations, rather than feeling overwhelmed managing and negotiating logistics at the last minute. 

You can record your agreement as a parenting plan or a parenting order. You can learn more about both of these options and the difference between them here.   

Finding Your Unique Festive Rhythm

Let go of the cookie-cutter image of the perfect family Christmas. Your Christmas celebrations can be just as special, if not more so, when you tailor it to the new shape of your family. Consider splitting the time—Christmas Eve with one parent, Christmas Day with the other. Or, why not alternate years? Flexibility can be the greatest gift you give each other and your children as you now have the freedom to create a plan that will work for you and your extended family. 

And if your co-parenting relationship allows, you could incorporate sharing a portion of Christmas Day. We have a number of clients who do the Christmas morning gift exchange and breakfast with their children and Ex. This can be a beautiful way to foster a sense of unity and respect. 

It’s about crafting a balance that celebrates the season while honouring the comfort and happiness of your children. 

The Gift of Clear Communication

One of the most important factors to implement in your planning for the holidays and Christmas is communication.  One of the challenges for children is when they feel like they must choose between their parents, or they become the messenger between their parents, particularly if they feel pressure to make the holiday and Christmas plans.  

The best way for your children to feel supported is for both parents to communicate about the plan, including their planned annual leave dates and travel plans, and have an agreed framework in place before telling the children what’s happening.  If one parent is communicating one set of dates, based on their plans, and this is different to the communications the children are getting from the other parent, then this is confusing and causes them to feel caught in the middle.  

Once you have an agreed holiday plan, share it with your children. This could mean explaining how Santa might visit both homes or how they’ll get to enjoy their favourite holiday treats with each parent. This clarity provides a sense of security and expectation for the kids, which is essential for their wellbeing. 

To keep ongoing communications child-focused during the holiday and Christmas period, keep in mind that emotions can be heightened around this time and this can make our words fly off-course. Before conversations with your Ex, have a strategy in place and aim for respectful, and patient discussions. This foresight ensures that your dialogue remains constructive, preserving cooperation and reducing any unnecessary conflict.  

If you’re struggling with the challenges of communicating with your Ex, check out our 5 tips for effective communication here 

Embracing Your Journey

The holiday season can amplify emotions, and it’s perfectly natural to feel a mix of joy and sadness. The sense of absence can be profound during the times when your children are celebrating away from you. Such feelings are not only natural but also a testament to the love you have for your children. During these moments, it’s important to extend a little of that love to yourself. Reach out to your support network, share your apprehensions, and make plans with those who will hold space for how you’re feeling, without judgement.  

Even if you were the one to initiate the separation, you are not immune to the range of feelings and nostalgia that will come up for you during the holidays and Christmas. In addition to leaning on your support network, you can navigate this time constructively and perhaps even with personal growth and enjoyment by: 

  • Using this quiet time for reflection and life planning. Give yourself time to process your emotions and separation journey, uncover and rediscover yourself and who you want to be in this next chapter, set intentions and goals for the future you want to bring to life.  
  • Moving your body. Whether it’s starting a new fitness regimen, practicing yoga, or learning meditation, focusing on your physical and mental health is a great way to spend this additional time.  
  • Diving into activities or hobbies you’ve been putting off. This can range from painting, gardening, creating a photo book to cooking.  
  • Planning outings or get-togethers with loved ones and friends.  
  • Travelling solo or friends, if feel ready for an adventure and trying something new to create fresh memories and moments of joy.  

Starting over after a separation is hard. It is a conscious choice you must make every single every day, particularly around the holidays and special occasions. You can start over, create new traditions, and redefine how you think about and spend this time.  We share how you can embrace the opportunity for growth and creating your best life going forward here 

By embracing these strategies, you can make the most of the time apart from your children, not only to recharge and reflect but to also develop your own sense of identity and joy during the holiday season. 

Creating New Traditions, Celebrating Old Joys

Children relish in the magic of Christmas. Ensure they know that the joy and love will be doubled—Santa doesn’t just have one stop, after all. Coordinate with your Ex regarding gifts to avoid duplication. 

For many of us, the festive gatherings with our wider family circle often unfold on days other than December 25th, and these celebrations carry just as much joy and significance as those held on Christmas Day itself. Letting go of the attachment to the specific date can open up a world of new and joyful Christmas experiences with your children.  

Consider this: children are unlikely to object to the delight of enjoying not just one, but multiple Christmases. In fact, extending the festivities can bring an added fun to your time together. Over time, you’ll find that the warmth and happiness of these gatherings create cherished memories that transcend any marked date, or any of the things that you’re saying goodbye to from your relationship.  

Embrace the opportunity to craft new traditions. These new memories will be treasures in their own right. 

As you navigate the summer holidays and Christmas season, focus on the benefit of having a clear plan and framework early rather than leaving it to the last minute. By planning ahead, you can reduce the stress of constant negotiations, during a time that can already feel overwhelming.  Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box to find a balance that works best for you, your children, and your Ex. It can be easy to get caught up in what the ‘perfect family Christmas’ should look like, or what “Christmas and holidays used to look like”. 

Remember that there isn’t one ‘perfect’ way to celebrate Christmas and the holidays. The options are endless. Your willingness to adapt and create new traditions can turn this your summer and holiday season into a time of growth and love, setting a new, enthusiastic tone for the New Year and the brighter future ahead. 

If you have not yet got your summer holiday and Christmas plans in place, the Bespoke Family Lawyers team can help you 

If you’re feeling uncertain about how to approach the upcoming summer holidays and Christmas season without a plan in place, Bespoke Family Lawyers is here to provide support and guidance. Our team is committed to helping you create a structured and thoughtful plan that reflects your family’s needs and allows everyone involved to enjoy the holiday period. With Bespoke Family Lawyers, you’ll receive practical advice and empathetic support to ensure that you and your children can look forward to the holidays with clarity and peace of mind. Book in a FREE 30 minute clarity call with us.   


Our expert team of family lawyers would love to help you to move toward the life and future you want to build with clarity and confidence. If you’re ready to map out a strategic plan that moves you forward, book your strategic planning session today or download our helpful free resources. 



This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or any other professional advice. 

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Let us guide you through what’s involved in untangling your relationship and give you the tools to set yourself up to move forward.

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