The holidays are almost here, which means family, fun, and, of course, presents! But with so much going on in this special season, co-parenting during the holidays can be difficult for many families. For example, if you have joint custody of your kids, you have to figure out logistics like travel time and shopping—not to mention seeing your ex. Want to avoid feeling like the Grinch? Here are five tips for navigating your co-parenting holiday schedule with ease.
Tip #1: Make a Plan for Your Holiday Custody Schedule and Put it in Writing
Before you do anything else consult your custody order, parenting agreement, or Separation Agreement. If you have room to modify the order/agreement, or if you have no agreement, talk through plans or any possible changes in plans with your ex-partner before your tell your child(ren) Make sure you develop a holiday parenting time schedule and put it in writing. As you do that, here are some questions to ask.
● What days are considered holidays for your custody agreement?
● Should co-parents spend time together?
● Will you alternate years?
● Would it make sense to split the winter break?
Flexibility and grace are essential this time of year, and above all else, remember to put your kids first. If you have the ability to make plans to ensure the children can spend time with both extended families, try to do so.
Tip #2: Try to Keep Traditions Alive as You Build Your Holiday Schedule for Custody
Don't feel pressured to make every day exactly like before you split up. But, if your kids enjoy things such as having dinner at a specific restaurant, going to a holiday lights display, or seeing Santa Claus at a particular mall, try to do those activities to keep the magic of the season alive.
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Tip #3: Discuss Gifts Ahead of Time
The holidays can be stressful enough without worrying about who gets what gift from whom, so make sure you're both on the same page. This means discussing who will buy which gifts and how much they cost beforehand, so there aren't any surprises later. Set a family budget for your children's gifts and make any spending limits clear.
Tip #4: Use an App to Make Co-parenting During the Holidays Easier
It's easy to forget about little things when you're busy but keeping communication open between parents throughout the year is essential to keeping things running smoothly during the holidays. So, if it's too late for this year, start talking now so next year goes as smoothly as possible.
A co-parenting app can help make planning less awkward. You can share custody calendars, school activity schedules, pictures, and more. Keeping the other parent in the loop throughout the holidays will take the stress off of everyone and help your kids enjoy more of what matters.
Tip #5: Take Care of Yourself
If your ex-partner is being difficult or if you’re feeling stress in general, it’s easy to get caught up in the negativity and forget about yourself. So, make sure you prioritize self-care throughout the holidays — otherwise, no one will be getting what they need from this arrangement.
Spending the first holiday away from your family can be challenging, so plan to do something fun that you love. And make sure you have a support system in place. Having a friend or family member to call or spend time with can make the transition a little easier.
Do You Have Questions About Co-parenting During the Holidays?
No matter what your plans are this holiday season, Spidell Family Law is here to help! So, give us a call if you have questions about co-parenting or are working out a custody agreement for the first time. Our compassionate team of professionals is ready to help you navigate whatever's next for your family.