Family & Relationships

25 Days of Co-Parenting During the Holidays

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The holiday season is supposed to be a time for joy and family. A time where you are surrounded by happiness and your children. However, if you have recently separated from your spouse, you could be feeling dread instead of anticipation.

Keeping the holiday spirit alive is vital this time of year, especially for your children. If you are worried about how to plan for the holiday season, you’re not alone. Take a look at our step-by-step holiday calendar on how to plan for co-parenting during the holidays.

December 1: Check your co-parenting plan.

It’s important to stick to your co-parenting plan. More than likely, it details which parent your children will be spending specific holidays with. One of the worst things you can do is make your kids choose between you and their other parent. It can cause anger and strife for everyone.

To make everything flow as smoothly as possible, coordinate with the other parent on every decision relating to the holidays. Do your best not to disrupt the pre-set schedule, but also understand that occasionally a compromise is needed. Try to make sure that your kids can spend an equal amount of time with both parents during the holidays. Long vacations can take time away from one parent, which may mean you will need to schedule make-up days in advance. Try to stay positive, courteous and flexible with your former/estranged spouse. Remind yourself that you can celebrate the holidays on any day you choose.

Get specific in your plan about when and where you will pick up and drop off your kids during the holidays. The less confusion there is about the situation, the less stress it will create. Transitioning from one house to another should be as smooth as possible. Follow through with all of your plans and don’t change them last minute. Trying to act out and become problematic for your ex out of anger will only hurt your children.

December 5: Plan your gift-giving for each child.

Coordinate gift-giving with the other parent for your sanity and budget. Don’t try to overcompensate for the current family situation by buying lots of presents for your kids. This isn’t good for your budget or the relationship with your ex. Talk with your ex about who is buying what to make the gifts equal and to also avoid buying two of everything.

December 8: Prepare for tumultuous times.

The holidays are especially emotional for everyone in your family. Everyone’s lives are changing, and it will take some getting used to. Children can become emotionally distressed and act out as they are going back and forth between parents’ homes. Create a disciplinary plan that both parents agree on for when your children begin to act out. Set up rules that should be followed at both homes and a consistent way that you will handle any issues.

December 12: Sit down and talk with your kids.

Schedule a time to talk with your children and make sure that they understand that the transition is hard for everyone. Being honest about the situation can help ease the transition. Let them know that the situation is hard for you, too, but you know that their other parent wants to spend time with them as well.

Fill your kids in on the set plan so that they can mentally and emotionally prepare for this new holiday tradition. Most important, remind your children that you both love them unconditionally.

December 15: Plan new traditions.

Creating new traditions can give your children something to look forward to this season. Focusing on old traditions may bring back memories of how your family used to be. Always consider the emotions that a certain activity or ritual could bring about. If the emotions will be negative without the other parent present, that’s a good sign that creating a new tradition would be best.

Here are a few spins on traditional holiday festivities to get you started:

  • Go out to eat instead of cooking.
  • Have a holiday picnic in a new part of the house.
  • Eat dinner while watching holiday movies.
  • Buy new holiday decorations.
  • Spend time with extended family.
  • Change your gift-giving routine.
  • Take silly family pictures.

December 20-25: Set aside downtime for the family.

With all of the changes and adjustments occurring in your family’s life, taking the time to relax is important during the holidays. Gather your family for a holiday movie night or read a story together. Taking moments to let everyone unwind can help keep stress levels low. The perfect holiday season doesn’t need to be filled with back-to-back excitement.

December 20-25: Give yourself a break.

Whether you want to think about it or not, your kids won’t be around for the entire holiday. On the days you know you will be alone, consider getting together with friends or other family members to help you through. You can also make the most of your free time by watching your favorite movie, shopping, exercising or visiting a local coffee shop. Now is the time that you can start thinking about yourself.

The holidays can make you feel alone as a parent, but it’s vital to understand that co-parenting could be the best way to manage the stress and uncertainties. On the other hand, managing your first holiday during a separation could be an excellent turning point in your life.

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