The holidays are quickly approaching. Are you trying to navigate the ups and downs of co-parenting during the holiday season? You are not alone. The first year after my divorce, the holiday season was chaotic, to say the least. Coparent can be general stressful but combing the holidays with divorce and shared custody, you have a recipe for a less-than-jolly season. While the post-divorce holidays may be different, they don’t have to be stressful. No matter what you and your ex husband disagree on, you are likely both in agreement that you want a happy, low-stress holiday for your children. So below are a few tips on how we can make it happen.
1.) Acknowledge Things Are Different and Make New Traditions
I am not going to sugar coat it, this tip may be the most difficult for recently divorced parents. It may be a hurdle to accept that things are different, especially during significant holidays. However, accepting that things are inevitably not the same provides room to create new holiday traditions with your family that you and your children will cherish. Acknowledging that the holidays will be different going forward also provides a space for you and your children to process difficult emotions and lean on each other in challenging times.
2.) Put Your Children First
You and your ex may disagree on a lot of things. Maybe your divorce was difficult, and your custody agreement was highly controversial. No matter the state of things surrounding your separation circumstances, it’s likely that you and your spouse still want the best for your children. During the holidays, it’s advisable to remember that your children’s best interests should come first. It’s in the best interest of the children to co-parent amicably. Now, I know from personal experience this can be easier said than done, it is not impossible. Do your best to refrain from arguments and encourage your children to spend time with their other parent.
3.) Plan in Advance By Creating a Holiday Schedule
One way to cut down on confusion, misunderstandings, and arguments when co-parenting is to create a schedule, especially for the holidays, and stand by it. Remember to take into account for every detail in your schedule and your ex's schedule. Having a set plan allows both you and your child’s other parent to make holiday plans with your children and extended family, decreasing potential disagreements and conflict. Here are a few ideas to create your co-parenting holiday schedule:
Start with using your initial parenting plan as a baseline to create your holiday plan;
Alternating days; for example, dividing even-numbered days and odd-numbered days;
Splitting the holiday evenly;
Alternating holidays yearly;
Deciding in advance which holidays the children will spend with each parent.
4.) Communicate Effectively
Co-parenting with an ex has many challenges. Having clear, prompt, and efficient communication is an absolute must, especially during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. When unexpected events happen, technology makes it possible for us to communicate on the go. It also allows us to communicate in written form, which is always the better option. Sending a text or email eliminates confusion and excuses later. If significant or long-term changes need to be made to your agreement, doing so in writing is the best bet.
5.) Anticipate Issues and Be Flexible
Listen, even with planning, communicating and such, still anticipate issues may arise over the holidays, it’s impossible to predict everything that could potentially happen. Common problems to include in your co-parenting schedule are winter break considerations and last-minute change requests. Considering what to do in these circumstances is advisable with the extra non-school time and inevitable holiday event uncertainty. Anticipate them and try your best not to sweat the small stuff. Focus on enjoying the holidays and the new memories you will be creating with your children. Have a spectacular Holiday season, darling.