Congratulations if you have worked together with your former spouse to create an agreeable co-parenting relationship. Having that successful co-parenting relationship in place is critical because, at the end of the day, you have to put your own feelings aside and think of your children first. This is especially true when co-parenting during the holidays.
Co-parenting during the holidays can be a bigger challenge for a divorced family than you think. You’re working hard already to split parental duties throughout the year, but now you have higher expectations to create a happy holiday season for your children. That can get a little messy when factoring in separate holiday travel plans, grandparents and other relatives from both sides who want to see the kids, and various parties and functions that need to be planned.
And it’s not just Christmas that we’re talking about. Starting in October, you have Halloween followed quickly by Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. This is the time of year when families are supposed to come together. So how do you make the most of it given your situation?
The good news is everything will work out just fine if you both keep your eyes on what’s most important.
Here are 5 tips for successful co-parenting during the holidays:
Keep your children top of mind
This is where you should start every time. Ensure that your kids feel loved and are happy. Furthermore, don’t make your kids choose between parents during the holidays and try not to change what you don’t have to. This includes maintaining family traditions that the kids look forward to every year and being together as a unit as much as possible. Bottom line, if you focus on what your kids need and less on what you want, you will make better choices throughout the holiday season.
Make a plan and be flexible
We are broaching this topic now so that you can plan ahead. Your current co-parenting plan likely includes who gets the kids during certain holidays, which should head off any potential arguments and reduce stress. But don’t be afraid to make new arrangements or go off-script. For example, maybe what your former spouse is suggesting isn’t such a bad idea and will make things easier for everyone. Take a deep breath and consider agreeing to it or at least meet them halfway.
Set a good example and stay in the holiday spirit
Be an excellent communicator and err on the side of giving too much information. Check with the other parent before making new plans. If there’s a problem, show you can work it out. And if necessary, seek professional guidance as a family. The more unified you look as a family during the holidays, the more unified you look to your kids.
If you do separate holidays, touch base often
If the kids are doing Thanksgiving at your house and Christmas at your ex’s house, it is absolutely critical that you make certain your kids feel like they can be open with you about the relationship they are having with their other parent, and vice versa. Talk positively about the other parent, check-in often so that both parents are as involved as possible, and celebrate the good times they are having.
Talk about gifts
To piggyback off the previous co-parenting during the holidays tip, no parent should ever try to one-up the other with gifts for the kids during the holiday season. Talk with each other about how many gifts there should be, if either of you prefers a spending limit per gift, and any other details.
As a parent, the most important duty you have is to show your children what a healthy relationship looks like after divorce – especially during the holidays. If you’re a dad, your role with your daughter is what she will base relationships on going forward. Boys will see how you treat their mother.
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