The holidays are supposed to be the most beautiful time of the year. However, holidays can be significantly stressful for families going through a divorce. Coordinating schedules for visitations and parenting time can be overwhelming. This is especially true if this is the first holiday for a family after a split. While the transition may be difficult, you can help prevent drama and minimize disruption by considering some of these holiday co-parenting tips:
10 Tips for Co-Parenting During the Holidays
1. Communicate With The Other Parent
It’s easy to get lost in the excitement of the upcoming holiday plans. You may be planning major events with the kids during the holidays without realizing that you haven’t communicated these plans with the other parent. The other parent may also have plans with the children and without communication, it can end up in conflict and everyone’s plans are ruined.
2. Plan In Advance
Don’t wait until the last minute to begin making holiday scheduling plans. It’s never too early to start making arrangements. Plus, it will save you stress later on. Keep track of your plans and to-do lists, and try to stay organized to avoid feeling overwhelmed. It helps to be flexible. The holidays can be unpredictable, so be prepared for last-minute changes.
3. Be Willing To Compromise
It is essential for parents to remain flexible when it comes to arranging co-parenting time. If for example, your ex-spouse has extended family coming into town, they may request trading days so that your children can visit. If the situation were reversed, you would want your ex to extend a similar courtesy. Arrange for any make-up days if these conciliatory gestures interfere with parenting time.
4. It’s Not A Competition
Don’t feel pressured to buy your children’s love after a divorce. The holidays are not a competition, and you should not feel the need to outdo your ex-spouse or make them look bad in any way. Coordinating gift-giving with your ex-spouse is a good idea – not only will this help prevent duplicate gifts, but it will ensure that holiday gift-giving does not negatively impact post-divorce finances.
5. Keep Your Kids First
No matter what, the best interests of your children should be your number one priority. It is essential to make sure that they have the opportunity to spend time with both sides of their family and that they are kept out of any parenting disputes.
6. Prepare Yourself For Possible Changes
Understand that things are going to change. The plans you once had for the holidays may not be possible anymore with a new parenting schedule. Be realistic. Don’t try to do too much or take on more than you can handle. It’s okay to say no to invitations or requests if it means taking care of yourself and your family.
7. Prepare The Kids For Possible Changes
Communicate with your children what the new plans are. Don’t spring a new schedule or new plan on them last minute. Let them know what the plans are in advance, that way they know what to expect as the holidays are approaching.
» Child-Centric Communication: Emphasize the importance of explaining changes in a child-friendly manner, considering their age and understanding level.
» Involving Children in Planning: Where appropriate, involve children in the planning process, giving them a sense of control and participation.
» Emotional Support: Acknowledge and validate any emotions or concerns children may have about the changes.
» Consistency and Reassurance: Maintain as much consistency as possible and reassure them about the continuity of both parents’ love and involvement.
» Adaptability: Prepare children for the possibility of last-minute changes, teaching them to adapt while providing support.
» Creating New Traditions: Encourage children to be part of creating new holiday traditions, making the changes more exciting and less daunting.
8. Be Open To New Ideas And Traditions
Try something new. The holidays are a great time to try out something you’ve always wanted to do, whether it’s learning a new skill, taking up a new hobby, or just trying something out of your comfort zone.
9. Stay Positive
Focus on the good. Instead of dwelling on the negative, try to focus on the things that make you happy and bring you joy during the holiday season. The holidays can be a busy and stressful time, so make sure to prioritize your physical and mental health. This might include getting enough sleep, eating well, and finding time for relaxation or exercise.
10. Seek Help If Needed
It’s great to think that you will make plans in advance and agree to the parenting holiday schedule with your ex but many times it doesn’t work out that way. If you tried meditating with the other parent to come up with a fair schedule that is in the best interest of the children, but it is just not working out and there is high conflict and disagreement, seek professional help from a mediator or a family attorney. In some cases, it’s best to have a 3rd party such as a mediator or attorney take the matter through the court system and have a judge decide on a parenting plan that is in the best interest of the child. In the meantime, it’s important to follow the current parenting plan and do your best to co-parent effectively. This might mean putting your differences aside and focusing on the needs of your children.
Co-parenting during the holidays can be a challenging time for many families. Both parents need to communicate and come to a plan that works for everyone involved, including the children. By following some simple tips, such as being flexible and putting the children’s needs first, co-parents can work together to make the holiday season a happy and memorable time for their children.
We hope that you find these tips helpful. Please consult with a family law attorney at Modern Family Law for further assistance with co-parenting and other custody-related issues.