How to Co-Parent Your Way Through the Holidays

The holidays are an exciting time filled with family get-togethers, presents, and good cheer. However, for families going through a divorce, the holidays might look a little different, especially for those trying to navigate the unfamiliar waters of co-parenting. If you are new to co-parenting, one of the most important things to keep in mind is that decisions regarding the holidays should be made with the best interest of the child(ren) in mind. Also, normality should be key. To help make the holidays a bit easier this year, consider the following tips from the legal team at Arnold & Smith, PLLC.:

When in Doubt, Check Your Co-parenting Plan

Co-parenting plans and custody agreements are great documents to set up during the divorce process. Not only do they help keep both parties on the same page and forge an agreement on who will care for the child(ren) when and where, but they can also outline how to handle things like the holidays. Some co-parenting plans may split the holidays between the parents. For example, one year the children might spend Thanksgiving with dad and Christmas with mom, and then the following year it might alternate. Compromise is the name of the game when it comes to successful co-parenting plans.

How Will You Transition Between Houses?

If the plan is for the children to alternate between houses during the holiday season, which parent will be responsible for dropping off and picking up the children? Some co-parenting plans might already address this detail, but if yours does not, it is important to figure it out before the holidays set in. The last thing you want is to add to the stress or to change your plans mid-day.

How Will Your Family Celebrate?

Whether it is Thanksgiving dinner with family or opening presents around the Christmas tree, the holidays have no shortage of traditions. Having a plan regarding what holidays will be celebrated, and with whom, will make co-parenting easier. Will you and the kids celebrate Thanksgiving? Will you go caroling or exchange gifts? Will the children spend half of the special day with one parent and the other half with the other parent? Make sure you and your ex-partner are on the same page before the start of the holidays.

Who Will Give What Gifts to the Kids?

Before the start of the holidays, determine which gifts each parent will be responsible for buying. Hash out a list and communicate openly so one parent is not on the hook for the majority of the gifts. Also, make sure your children do not receive duplicate gifts by keeping the lines of communication open.

Be Prepared for Intense Emotions

For many people, the holiday season is a busy one and can be stressful. Because of this, it is normal for emotions to run high. With children, you are likely to witness tantrums and bad attitudes. It is perfectly normal. Things can get even more emotional if the children are having to rotate between houses on a single day, like on Thanksgiving or Christmas. Be understanding and do your best to help your children through their new normal.

Keep Lines of Communication Open

Because the holidays can be an emotional, stressful time for everyone, assure your children that they can talk to you whenever they need to. They may have questions about what to expect now that you are divorced. Explain the co-parenting plan to them so they know what to expect during the holidays.

Start a New Family Tradition

One of the best ways to spruce up the holidays and ease the stress a bit is to start a new family tradition. This can help make the Holiday season feel more special and give your children something to look forward to. Some ideas for new traditions include:

  • White elephant gift exchange
  • Christmas games
  • Wreath making
  • Christmas sweater party
  • Cookie baking
Take Care of Yourself

Do not let yourself get lost in the hustle and bustle of the holiday excitement. As a parent, there are a million and one things to take care of for Christmas and Thanksgiving, but one of those things must include self-care. Remember to take a break every once in a while and read a book or work on a hobby. Self-care and rest can do wonders for your stress and mood. A happy parent makes for happy children.

These are a few helpful tips you can try to help take the stress and hassle out of co-parenting around the holidays. If you have questions or concerns about your parenting agreement or wish to set one up, Arnold & Smith, PLLC can help. Now with offices in Charlotte, Mooresville and Monroe, our team is passionate about helping families like your transition to a new normal post-divorce. Call us today at 704-370-2828.