Co-parenting can be challenging during any time of the year and the holidays can sometimes amplify stress. For newly divorced or separated families, the first holiday season marks a transition period for all involved and should be given due consideration as both parents and children will need to get accustomed to new traditions and the loss of some shared family customs. Today, we go over some tips on how to co-parent effectively during the holiday season. Whether this is your first holiday season post a divorce or separation, or you have been doing this for years, it is always helpful to read up on ways to continue to bring your family together during the holidays.
Refer to Your Parenting Plan
Hopefully, you have a parenting plan in place that provides clear details on how the holiday will be spent. If not, you and your co-parent should sit down and determine how the kids will spend their time away from school and which parent will be responsible for taking them to certain special events and holiday celebrations.
If needed, you can hire an attorney or mediator to assist you. It is important to remember that even if you have a parenting plan in place, you should adapt to the changing needs of your children. You may need to work out a different arrangement with your co-parent, for instance, if one of your children gets sick over the holidays. Make sure you also allow for growth with your plan too as your children get older. As your children become teenagers, they will probably want to spend some more time with their friends over the holidays.
To avoid disputes and confusion, speak to your family about expectations for the holidays. Discuss any traditions you value and want to see carried on with the children. Also, plan pick up and drop off dates and locations for activities to ensure no one forgets to take the kids to their holiday festivities.
It would also be smart to ensure both you and your co-parent have a copy of your kids’ holiday school schedule. That way you know which days your kids have off and can plan accordingly.
It would also benefit you to practice some flexibility at times. Holiday pop ups happen, and your kids may want to go to one without much notice. Additionally, relatives can show up unexpectedly, which will require you to be both generous and flexible with your holiday plans.
You may also need to step in for your co-parent at times too. In the event he/she gets sick, needs you to pick the kids up from school, or cannot make it to a school holiday event, you may have to help.
Use Your Support System
Navigating the holidays as you transition as a family can be hard. As a parent, you may feel that you must keep it together in front of the children. Luckily, the holidays are a time for family, so you probably have more family members around you during this season. Spend meaningful time with your friends and relatives during this time if you are feeling down. If you need to speak to a professional therapist, that is okay as well. Do what you need to take care of yourself this holiday season to ensure you feel happy, healthy, and connected to your children.
Create New Family Holiday Traditions
Many family members feel that the holidays after a divorce or separation are the most difficult due to the loss of family traditions. Why not create new holiday traditions this year? Here are some suggestions that may help or inspire you:
- Family picnic
- White elephant exchange
- Arts and crafts
- Ugly sweater party
- Movie night
- Pie making competition
- Annual Christmas ornament exchange
- Holiday trip to the library
- Cookie bake-off
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