How to head off half-term and school closure parenting headaches

Separated couples who face further anguish over parenting arrangements both in half-term, and with the extended closure of schools into March, are being encouraged by a leading family charity to ease their headaches by organising a parenting plan.

Staff at National Family Mediation say that while the pandemic has made co-parenting arrangements much trickier for many people, there are ways to address the challenges and, crucially, to ensure children can spend time with both parents in the weeks ahead.

“School holidays are often a trigger for deepening tensions between separating parents,” says Jane Robey, the charity’s CEO.

“Covid-19 has of course compounded matters, and many parents are staring ahead at a few more weeks where childcare arrangements are needed,” she adds.

“Many families are telling us that parenting arrangements that previously worked well have evaporated in recent months because of changing work patterns and restrictions on visiting others, not to mention the impact of tough financial challenges.

“It’s easier to achieve agreements than many people think, especially when an expert third party mediator is involved.”

“A Parenting Plan is an agreement made by separated parents, covering how the children will be supported and cared for after separation or divorce. Its value is that you both tailor it to suit your own circumstances – this is no off-the-peg solution.”

She said that a number of factors have pushed separated couples into crisis during the pandemic, including forced changes in established daily routines.

“As time goes on and as, hopefully, the impact of Covid on our lives is reduced, the Parenting Plan can be updated to match changing need. Children grow up, their needs change, as do parents’ jobs and relationships.”

She added that even at this stage in the year, it is not too early to start thinking ahead to the long six-week 2021 summer break, and make suitable plans for their children in advance.

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