Co-Parenting During the Holiday Season

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The summer has turned to fall and the kids are back in their whirlwind school routines.  It seems as if in an instant, the holiday season is upon us again. If you have recently gone through a divorce or separation, you are also adjusting to co-parenting children who now have parents in separate households.  Along with maintaining several different schedules at once and trying to keep everyone happy, you now have the holidays thrown into the mix.

Parenting can be a juggling act even when you have a partner by your side every day for help and support. Managing your life with children after divorce or separation can often feel like a complete circus act. Now is more important than ever to remain organized with planning, create expectations and keep communication open.

The holidays were likely a magical time of year for the entire family.  With proper co-parenting, they can still be just that and more. Traditions are important, and although they may change slightly, it is important that they continue. The following are a few tips on how to keep organized during the holiday season after your divorce or separation:

  • Keep communication open and clear with the other parent. Be sure that you both have a calendar that you can use to track your agreements on certain days.
  • If your parenting plan has not already addressed specific holidays, you must discuss them now.  Talk about which holidays are the most important to each of you. Some of the smaller holidays might mean more to one person than the other, whereas the larger holidays will likely mean a lot to you both. This is where working out specifics is crucial. If you are already divorced and the parenting plan does not address all holidays, you should draft a written agreement and submit the agreement to the Court.  If you are separated and have not yet finalized a parenting plan, be sure that you devote a section of the parenting plan to holidays.
  • Never allow your children to choose with whom they will spend a holiday. This puts too much stress on everyone involved and someone’s feelings will be hurt. A consistent, established routine will work best.
  • Allow yourselves enough time to come up with a plan so that as the holidays approach everyone is prepared and has realistic expectations. Scrambling at the last minute will create chaos and an undesirable environment.
  • Make a list of the traditions that are important to each of you and then find a way to make them happen even if minor (or major) adjustments need to be made. Children work best with routine, so if they have always had the same set of traditions to look forward to, it will make it easier for them to adjust during the difficult time of divorce.

Maintaining an organized, well thought out schedule with the other parent after a divorce or separation is the best way to make the holiday season a little less stressful and more enjoyable for you as a parent and for your children. If you are having difficulty coming up with a plan, a professional Family Law attorney can help to guide you through a plan that is appropriate for everyone. The first year will be the most difficult, but as each year comes and goes and there are routines and traditions to look forward to, the holidays will surely become magical again.

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