It is important not to use the time your children spend with your ex as a bargaining tool. You may no longer be partners but you are forever parents, and your children need you to co-parent even if you no longer live together. When your children do go off with your ex, you may feel a mixture of emotions from loneliness to relief. It's ok to feel relieved when the children go off for the weekend – it’s tough bringing up children alone and you deserve a break. Your home may seem very quiet so try to make the most of the time by catching up with friends or doing something for yourself.
At first it may be hard getting used to your child spending time with their other parent, you may feel resentful. Share those feelings with another adult, not the child. Children can pick up on our feelings and can be torn between parents, feel guilty and confused and may react by avoiding one parent or lashing out at the other.
Holidays and special occasions
Spread days together with the non-resident parent over the school holidays so both parents have a chance to spend quality time with children. Children don’t have to go away to share school holidays.
Some holidays will have greater significance than others such as festivals, birthdays or special days. Children could spend the main festival day, a particular school holiday or birthday at one home one year and at the other parent's house the next year. Or, sometimes, children can have more than one Easter or Passover, Diwali or Eid over a holiday period, they will love it. Read more on coping with holidays.
Try to be as fair as you can with your ex-partner and remember that your children’s school holidays may clash with that of step or half siblings.
Contact with grandparents
Where possible, it is good for children to have continuing contact with grandparents, aunts and uncles from both sides of their birth family, for the stability they offer and the continuing link with their own origins. Keeping in touch can also offer practical help as they can help with child care.