The holidays are meant to be a happy season filled with memorable experiences for you and your children both. However, for divorced or separated parents, it can be a time of stress and heartache over schedule conflicts and shared time with your children. Divorce was likely difficult enough as you handled complex matters such as dividing your debts, assets, and property, but creating a custody arrangement opened the gate to a whole new set of challenges. Unfortunately, even after an arrangement is made, that gate can’t close completely, as you and your co-parent have to continue to collaborate, communicate, and navigate the complexities of co-parenting.
Below are 7 tips for co-parenting success during the upcoming holiday season so that you can ensure your children’s well-being throughout the seasons ahead.
1. Plan ahead
With several holidays quickly approaching, it’s important that you and your co-parent are on the same page about which holiday you’ll each spend with your children. By planning in advance, you’ll both have the opportunity to get used to the idea of sharing time with your beloved children during the holidays you choose to celebrate. Taking this kind of proactive approach can create stability for your children, so that they know what they can look forward to. Planning ahead can make for a more enjoyable holiday season for you, your co-parent, and your children.
2. Create A Schedule
Another tip for successful co-parenting during the holiday season is creating a schedule. Coming up with a set schedule for the days each of you will have your children can reduce stress and eliminate conflict between you and your co-parent, but also provide structure for your children. Whether you both arrange for each of you to see them on a holiday, or you take turns each year, creating a schedule eliminates the element of surprise for you, your co-parent and your children. There isn’t one set plan that each family uses; your family’s needs are unique, so an arrangement that worked for a friend or family member in your same situation might not work for you and yours. If you can’t create a schedule on your own, there are online templates that can help you develop a schedule for the oncoming holidays.
Once your holiday schedule is set, it’s crucial that you continue to communicate with your co-parent as schedules can change and special circumstances can arise that might require the need for a change in a schedule. Additionally, having strong communication with your child’s other parents, especially during the holidays, shows them that their well-being is your top priority. If you and your co-parent struggle to communicate effectively, one option that might be beneficial is mediation. This is a non-adversarial conflict resolution technique that can enable you both to resolve matters regarding holiday schedules and more.
4. Be Flexible
As mentioned above, at some point, your co-parent might request that there is a schedule change. No matter what the reason is, if you’re able to be flexible, it’s something to take into consideration. Try to put yourselves in their shoes and think about what you’d prefer if the roles were reversed. If you’re able to stomach the change, it can go a long way with them and your child. That being said, any changes still have to abide by your custody arrangement.
If there are changes that need to be made to your custody arrangement to accommodate holiday plans, you might want to work with a modification attorney who can help you modify the terms of your arrangement.
5. Prioritize the Children
Another tip, and perhaps the most important one, is that you prioritize your children. If you put their needs, stability, and happiness at the forefront of your holiday schedules and plans, you’ll create an environment that fosters a sense of security and belonging during a time of transition, and also a time that they’ll always remember. Additionally, if your child is older, considering their preference for their location during the holidays is something you might want to take into consideration.
6. Share Traditions
If your children’s other parent celebrates a different holiday, or has separate customs to yours, incorporating them into your time that you share with your child can be an excellent opportunity for broadening your child’s understanding of other traditions, and also another way of promoting togetherness.
Some couples have amicable divorces that allow for their custody arrangement and holiday schedule to follow suit. If you and your children’s other parent are on peaceful terms, sharing traditions or even spending time all together on a holiday can create a warm, memorable atmosphere for your children.
7. Be Respectful
Throughout every step of your co-parenting journey, respect and kindness will go a long way. Try to remember that this is your child’s other parent you’re dealing with; they love them just as much as you do. Children are extremely intuitive, so it’s apparent to them when the two of you aren’t getting along. Treat them how you wish to be treated and keep them up to date on things happening with your child, even when it’s your time with them.
Co-Parenting Can Be Hard, Learn How A Family Lawyer Can Help
Just like divorce, having to create a custody arrangement and holiday schedules can be difficult. Even if you and your ex are on the best of terms, it may be challenging agreeing on the best arrangement for your child. If you know you can’t see eye to eye but are still focused on what’s best for your children, or if you can’t speak to your ex without a fight breaking out, a custody attorney can help you negotiate the terms of your custody arrangement or fight on your behalf for your parental rights.
How Divorce & Mediation Law Firm | Cabanas Law Firm Can Help
If you’re dreading the upcoming holidays, you might want to consider meditation or even modification to your custody arrangement. The experienced custody and modification attorneys at Divorce & Mediation Law Firm | Cabanas Law Firm can help you understand your options, rights, and responsibilities so that you can reach the best possible outcome for your children. Call today to request a consultation and learn about the next steps you can take to ensure co-parenting success during the holiday season.