Co-Parenting and the Holidays: What You Need to Know

The holidays are fast approaching, and with them are undoubtedly plans to spend time with family decorating cookies, opening presents, and enjoying Thanksgiving dinner. What do the holidays look like for families going through a divorce, or who are recently divorced? If there are children involved, co-parenting through the holidays can be a stressful affair, but it does not have to be. As long as both parents communicate with each other and with the children, and stick to a plan, the holidays can still be a magical, fun time for everyone involved. To get started, check out the following tips from the team at Arnold & Smith, PLLC.

What Does Your Co-Parenting Plan Say?

Most parenting plans have details and instructions on how to handle the holidays with children. Co-parenting plans, along with custody agreements, are useful documents set up during the divorce proceedings. When well crafted, they help keep both parties on the same page during life’s big moments. Some parenting plans might detail how the holidays are supposed to be split. For example, in some plans, children might spend Thanksgiving with dad and Christmas with mom, and then the following year it might alternate. Being able to compromise is key to managing stress during the holidays.

What Traditions Will be Celebrated?

Will you decorate Christmas cookies or make a gingerbread house? What about presents and the traditional Thanksgiving dinner? If there is one thing for certain, there is no shortage of traditions to celebrate. Will your children celebrate Thanksgiving with you or your ex-spouse, though? Where will the children decorate cookies or set up a Christmas tree? Will you go caroling or watch a holiday parade? Before making plans for the holidays, it is best to be on the same page with your ex-partner.

Make a Plan for Gift Giving

For many families, gift-giving is a big part of the holiday season. But before you rush out to shop for your children, have a plan for which parent will pick up which present, and for whom. Also, make sure the plan includes an even split of the gift buying so you are not on the hook for the majority of the purchases. Additionally, compare lists so the children do not end up receiving duplicate gifts.

Be Ready for a Frenzy of Emotions

The holidays, while fun and exciting, can also be full of stress and high emotions. This means children will be more prone to tantrums and bad attitudes. It is normal, especially when you toss in a divorce and new family traditions. If children have to rotate between households on big days like Thanksgiving and Christmas, expect that they may become upset. Respond calmly and with understanding to help your children through the family’s new normal.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Due to the stress and high emotions that often accompany the holidays, it is always a good idea to keep the lines of communication open. Make sure you and your ex-spouse are on the same page at all times and allow your children to ask questions about what to expect. Take time to explain how the holidays will be different and what the family can do together to make it a fun time.

Try a New Family Tradition

One surefire way to keep the holidays exciting for children is to try out a new family tradition. This makes the season feel more special and will give the children something fun to look forward to. Some ideas can include:

  • Ice skating
  • Cookie baking
  • White elephant gift exchange
  • Caroling
  • Writing letters to Santa
Do Not Forget About Yourself

With so many demands and responsibilities that come with the holidays, it is easy for your own needs to get lost in the shuffle. From scheduling pickups and drop-offs between the two households, helping out with classroom parties, gift buying, and all the other tidbits that go into the holidays, it is easy to forget to take care of yourself. Remember to take a break every so often and work on a hobby or read that book that has been collecting dust on your nightstand. Self-care can do wonders for anyone.

These are just a few helpful tips and tricks to help get through the holidays while co-parenting. If you have questions or concerns about your parenting agreement or would like to have one set up, give the team at Arnold & Smith, PLLC a call.

These are just a few helpful tips and tricks to help get through the holidays while co-parenting. If you have questions or concerns about your parenting agreement or wish to set one up, Arnold & Smith, PLLC with offices in Charlotte, Monroe and Mooresville can help. Call us today at 704-370-2828 for a consultation.