Divorce and co-parenting are stressful enough, but when you add another layer of the holiday schedule, it can create even more frustration and challenging moments. Here’s how to make co-parenting during the holidays a little bit easier.
It seems that the first year or two of creating a holiday schedule are the most difficult and that is why it’s so important to have more structure and clarity.
This is where effective communication and focusing on what’s best for your kids truly takes the forefront.
Here are some of my best tips for how to plan and manage the holidays so that you save your sanity and your children have great memories of the holidays.
Plan Ahead and Communicate:
Start planning for the holidays well in advance to ensure everyone’s expectations and schedules are clear.
Communicate openly and respectfully with your co-parent about your plans, preferences, and any potential conflicts.
Create a Detailed Schedule:
Develop a clear and detailed holiday schedule that outlines when each parent will have time with the children, including specific dates and times. Often parenting plans have specific details about who has the children on each holiday and you may alternate that year to year.
Be Flexible and Accommodating:
Be open to making adjustments to the holiday schedule when necessary, considering the best interests and well-being of the children. I always recommend that parents have a Plan B as things can change. This keeps parents from having to put children in the middle of those unforeseen changes.
Aim to maintain consistent routines and traditions for the children, even if they are spending time in different households. Keep in mind that some children are more complex and need more consistency so be aware of each individual child and their specific personalities and needs.
Focus on Quality Time:
Make the most of the time you have with your children by engaging in meaningful activities, creating cherished memories, and emphasizing quality over quantity.
This is an opportunity to create new traditions and memories so instead of trying to keep everything the same, try new things. Your kids will love you for it.
Avoid Conflict in Front of the Children:
Ensure that any disagreements or conflicts are discussed privately, away from the children, to maintain a positive and peaceful holiday atmosphere. This goes without saying and should be the way it is both during holidays and beyond.
Exchange Necessary Information:
Share important information regarding the children’s plans, activities, and any special needs or requirements during the holiday period. Using a parenting app helps here if you struggle with this during the year as well.
Be Supportive of Each Other:
Encourage and support your co-parent’s relationship with the children, acknowledging the importance of their bond and involvement. You may not like how your co-parent is “doing the holidays” with your children, but remember to stay on your side of the street and allow the other parent to enjoy the holidays with the kids their way.
Stay Positive and Stay Calm:
It may be hard for you not to be without your children for the holidays, especially the first year or two. Use this time to consider what new ways you can find to be healthy and take care of your own well-being. It can be helpful to call on friends and family to help you pass the time when your children are with their co-parent.
Consider a Joint Celebration:
If possible and appropriate, consider spending part of the holiday together as a family to create a sense of togetherness and unity for the children. This takes a lot of communication, but some families are able to try this and make it work. If you’re dealing with a high conflict co-parenting relationship, please consider talking with a professional for additional tips.
If communication and coordination becomes too much and you can’t seem to do it alone, consider involving a co-parenting specialist to help facilitate productive conversations and find mutually agreeable solutions.
Remember, co-parenting during the holidays requires cooperation, understanding, and flexibility. By putting the needs of your children first and maintaining open communication, you can create a positive holiday experience for everyone involved.
I’m here to help if you would like additional tips – you don’t need to do this alone.