01785 223440      team@orj.co.uk

Christmas Childcare arrangements in the times of Covid-19

Your Child and Christmas Childcare Arrangements. 

Christmas childcare arrangements

Traditionally, making childcare arrangements for Christmas can be challenging irrespective of the size or nature of your family. In the current public health situation, with its ever-changing rules and guidelines, sorting out the arrangements for this time of the year becomes even more challenging. This year will unfortunately again look very different for many families, with Covid 19 disrupting traditional routines and the arrangements for families to spend time together across the country.

For those families with loved ones that live in different areas or in different households, or where there are children that may need to move between the homes of their respective parents, they will be placed in a situation where they may need to come up with alternative ways of being able to share the upcoming festive period together. The situation can be complicated enough even without taking the disruption caused by Covid into account.

For separated parents, the ongoing Covid situation means thinking about how best to ensure that the usual arrangements that may have been in place previously are not impacted in a way that seriously impacts upon their ability to spend time with their children or loved ones. This would apply equally to those parents who have recently separated or been separated for some time.

If you have not yet agreed or confirmed the arrangements for Christmas or the festive period, it is important that this is addressed sooner rather than later, as leaving these arrangements to the last minute can often cause issues and significant disagreements.

The child’s perspective

It is quite often all to easy to overlook the child’s views at this time of year although it is important to remember that Christmas spent in more than one household can be a good thing from the child’s perspective in that it can mean a doubling up on those aspects of this time of year that can make it so special. Two households often translates into two sets of presents, dinners, and those activities that children (big and small) find enjoyable. While there is no doubt that arranging this can be tricky, in light of Covid and the sometimes strained relationship between separated parents, if the parents are prepared to be flexible on both sides, and are seeking to place the child’s needs first and foremost, there is little reason why this year should not be as enjoyable as previous years.

This can be a busy time of year and we are frequently contacted by concerned parents who have encountered issues in reaching agreement on the arrangements for Christmas. This can be stressful and upsetting for all parties and we have put together a few pointers to assist parents in making arrangements for Christmas contact without disruption to the children, whose welfare must remain the paramount concern at all times.

  1. Make arrangements in advance

One of the biggest problems encountered in the run-up to Christmas is parents trying to arrange Christmas contact too late. It is vital to make sure that any proposals for Christmas contact are made well in advance to provide for agreement to be reached that are in the child’s best interests. Do bear in mind that it is not appropriate for the child to be involved in such discussions.

If in-person communication between the parents is difficult, they should look at other means of communicating such as emails, text messaging or video calling. Bear in mind that all such communications should be centred on the child’s interests and be as amicable or neutral as possible so as to ensure that the atmosphere remains calm, which gives good opportunity for the parties to discuss the arrangements sensibly.

Make sure you set aside enough time for this as, if the communications are unsuccessful, then you still have the opportunity of seeking the assistance of a legal professional to resolve the issues or assist in negotiations.

  1. Put together a plan for you and the child

Each and every family’s circumstances are different and as such they will have individual or specific needs which should be factored in when looking to make plans for Christmas. There are however certain arrangements that can work for Christmas contact routines, such as :

  • Sharing Christmas Day – where the child starts their day at one parent’s home and then a time is agreed for the other parent to collect the child to spend the rest of Christmas Day with them. This is usually rotated on a yearly basis.
  • Sharing Christmas and Boxing Days – where the child will spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with one parent and then the child spends Boxing Day and the 27th December with the other parent, with the handover taking place later on Christmas Day or early on Boxing Day. This provides the child with the chance to spend a full day with each parent over this period. This arrangement is usually alternated on a yearly basis.
  • Another example of an arrangement that can work quite well for some families is where the parties agree that the child spends time with one parent on Christmas and Boxing Day and then spends time with the other parent on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. This can be helpful where the parties live some distance away from each other and travel may be somewhat complicated or time consuming, both for the child and the parents.
  • When discussing any arrangements for the festive period, parents are reminded that schools sometimes allow or provide additional time off at this time of year, or may be affected by any updating Covid guidelines, and this needs to be considered when looking at the arrangements.
  1. Be clear in what is agreed

Difficulties and confusion for a child can arise when both parents tell the child that they will be present or around on Christmas Day. Although this can work without issue for those separated parents whose relationship remains friendly or amicable, it can cause confusion for the child who may think that their parents will, or could, get back together again.  Such an impression can be difficult for a child at the end of the day when they see their parents going their respective ways. The upset that this can cause for a child can be even greater if they witness their parents having a falling out or disagreement and should be avoided at all costs, especially on Christmas Day.

  1. Presents

When parents are discussing or communicating around Christmas childcare arrangements, it is sensible to go through what presents the child may receive from each parent as you should avoid getting into a situation where a parent may try to outperform the other parent at this time of year. As part of this, you should bear in mind that, while a parent may consider a present or gift to have a particular value, it would be of more value to the child to see their parents getting on with each other and spending quality and enjoyable time with both of them.

  1. Be considerate

It is a time of year when it will be difficult and stressful for any separated parent to spend time without their child although it is important to bear in mind that this period should not be used as an opportunity to use against the other parent with the view to cause them hurt. This should be a time when, despite a change in family circumstances, all family members are able to spend time or have contact with those that they love and are close to.

If you feel that you may need any advice or assistance in sorting out or addressing Christmas childcare arrangements, click here to contact our family team who will be more than happy to help.