The new year is a time to organize, and plan forward.  We often make resolutions, trying to make this year better than the last.

Separated parents can use this time to set expectations for the upcoming year, and avoid last-minute conflicts.

If you already have a schedule in place for your children, you could look at where the holidays will fall, and plan around them as necessary.  For example, where are the children for Easter? Do any changes need to be made in the days before or after? When are extended family celebrations?  These issues are much easier to resolve now than they are the week before the holiday, when extended family plans have already been made.

If parents are able to communicate reasonably well, an initial planning meeting early in the year may be a good idea.  Once the tentative plans are made, online calendars can be helpful for updates and reminders.

If you are not at a point where an in-person meeting is comfortable, initial plans could be made by email, or with the assistance of a mediator.

Google Calendar is an online free resource where parents can establish and update a calendar for the children.  This can be helpful not only for the regular schedule and holidays, but also for information about school trips, events, extra-curricular activities, and children’s social activities.

There are other more specific tools for separated families, including Our Family Wizard, ShareKids and Two Happy Homes. There are fees for some of these services, but they are worth exploring to see if your family would benefit from the added features.

Parenting through separation is challenging.  The best gift that you can give your children is reduced conflict.  By planning ahead of time, you can take the first step down that path.