Working out a shared parenting plan is a vital part of any divorce when there are kids involved. You may have it all planned in your head: drop the kids at school, go to work and finish in time to pick them up. Then, your daughter comes running up to you with a note in her hand and a massive grin on her face: “Mom, there’s no school on Thursday. Can we go out for the day?”

Days off school and holidays are exciting when you are young, but for many parents, they are a nightmare. They upset your carefully planned routine and subject you to the demanding attention of your children 24/7. If you are recently divorced and running a household alone, you may need to work all the hours you can. Having to look after the kids all day can hit your income hard.

Holidays can also cause problems for another reason. There may be times that both you and your ex want the kids. For example, deciding who spends Thanksgiving or Christmas with the children is challenging. Spending your first Christmas without your kids is even harder.

Families may get involved, too. Perhaps your family has set dates where they always go away together, and your mother expects the kids to be there. How will this work if they are due to be with their dad that week?

The best way to solve any child custody issues is by negotiation. If you and the other parent can maintain good communication, you can find a compromise. Remember, as your children grow up, they will likely have preferences about where they want to spend Christmas, or what they want to do in the summer holidays.