Despite getting divorced eight months ago, you and your former spouse have breezed through what has thus far been an amicable co-parenting relationship. You’ve kept the kids top of mind in every decision, honored the agreed-upon possession schedules, and handled the occasional surprise with grace and flexibility.
More importantly, the kids feel loved and are living a normal life.
But now, the holidays are here, and Christmas is right around the corner. What happens now?
Yes, co-parenting during the holidays will look and feel a little different. This is especially true if this is your first season under this arrangement. You are suddenly having to navigate separate holiday events, travel plans, extended family from both sides wanting to be included, and your parental desires to be with your children as much as humanly possible.
At first glance, it all sounds overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be — nor do the holidays have to be any less jolly.
Our attorneys at Christman Ramsey & Foster, PC have pooled together six helpful tips for co-parenting during the holidays.
6 Tips for Co-Parenting During the Holidays
1. Continue putting your children first
You’ve done a great job so far ensuring your kids’ best interests come first. Don’t stop now that the holidays are here. Foster an environment where there is minimal arguing, negativity, awkwardness, or resentment, and the kids feel like they have equal access to mom and dad. No matter what went wrong in your marriage, your kids are the most important part of your life. They need to see that they can still have a magical holiday season.
2. Plan in advance
Your existing possession schedule specifies who has access to the children, when, and for how long. It likely also accounts for who gets the kids during certain holidays. Don’t be afraid to make new arrangements everyone can be happy (splitting the holidays evenly, alternating holidays yearly, alternating days, etc.). Planning ahead and considering every little detail keeps everyone on the same page and cuts down on confusion, misunderstandings, and arguments.
3. Be flexible
It’s important for each parent to be flexible and open to adjusting on the fly to things like different work and school schedules, last-minute travel plans, change requests, and anything else that comes up during the holidays. After all, it’s impossible to predict everything that could potentially happen.
4. Talk about gifts
Avoid one-upping each other on gifts. Sit down ahead of the holidays, either in person or by phone, and discuss how many gifts there will be, who is purchasing what, and if there will be a spending limit per gift. Based on your relationship, consider opening gifts together or jointly participating in Santa gifts and time.
5. Spend time together as a family
Admittedly, this may not be the best option for everyone. But many people believe that co-parenting during the holidays should involve at least a little bit of time being spent together as a family. Though temporary, it gives the kids a chance to be with both parents at the same time and limits additional disruptions during the holidays. It also reinforces that you will always be a family, no matter what happens. This might look like attending a tree-lighting ceremony together, visiting Santa, shopping for grandparents, etc.
6. Stay in the holiday spirit
It’s important for your children to feel like they can talk openly with you and your former spouse about their relationship with their other parent. This means celebrating their happiness, talking positively about the other parent, keeping both parents as involved as possible, and setting a good example by presenting a unified front.
Co-Parenting Is Important
Part of healthy parenting should be trying to maintain a sense of normalcy for children after a divorce through well-intentioned and amicable co-parenting. Granted, this can be easier said than done when navigating what is undoubtedly a turbulent and emotional time for everyone. On top of that, you may not be too thrilled to work with your former spouse on anything.
For your children’s sake, however, the healthiest co-parenting relationships work to go beyond possession schedules and court orders to get on the same page with the co-parenting relationship and think first about what children want and need. It’s hard, but it can be done if both parents work toward that goal, with their children’s best interest in mind.
At Christman Ramsey & Foster, PC, our attorneys anchor their representation and legal advice in principles and philosophies that focus on the long-term best interests of children and families. Our mission is to provide our clients with long-range perspectives and outstanding legal advice that help them rebuild their families after marital dissolution.
Where you fall in that conversation may not be clearly defined until we can sit down, dive into your unique situation, and determine the best course of action for everyone involved.
Please call Christman Ramsey & Foster, PC, for your legal needs today!
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