Co-Parenting During The Holidays

Little girl hugging mom in the snow

The holiday season is supposed to be a joyful time of year. Most parents want to do their best for their kids, but getting holiday schedules settled without conflict can be challenging when you’re co-parenting. The family law attorneys at Thomas, Conrad & Conrad recommend that you always keep your children’s best interests in mind in everything you do. These tips can help make co-parenting less stressful and enable everyone to make joyful holiday memories together.

Make A Plan Ahead Of Time

The holidays are a busy time. A lot of parents’ schedules are packed with shopping, family gatherings, parties, work, and attending school events. Juggling all of these things can be stressful, and as a divorced or separated parent, dealing with co-parenting during the holidays can be emotionally taxing. Creating a parenting plan for the holidays can help ease some of the tension, help you manage expectations, and allow both parents and children to spend time with the people they love.

One of the best ways to ensure a smooth holiday season is to make arrangements as part of your larger parenting plan or child custody agreement. Planning is easier when some issues are already resolved and made clear. For example, specifying that parents alternate spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with their children each year. If you’re planning a trip around the holidays and want to take your kids, make sure to talk to your co-parent about it well in advance so you have time to work out the details.

If you don’t live in the same area, this can be tricky, but keeping lines of communication open is never a bad thing. It’s also important to have your divorce attorney help you update your parenting plan every so often. As your children get older, schedules and circumstances will change, so it’s best to stay on top of the holidays to keep conflict to a minimum.  

Be Flexible

Life is unpredictable, and things happen that make it necessary to adjust plans. Being willing to compromise shows that you care about your children and put their happiness first. Do your best to make sure your kids spend quality time with each parent and extended family. It’s important to remember that you won’t always get everything you want, but any day can be a special celebration if you make it one.

Remember That You Can’t Buy Love

Many divorced or separated parents try to overcompensate by overspending on extravagant gifts. If you’re doing this to one-up your co-parent or because you believe it will make your kids feel better about the situation, it won’t. Showering your children with expensive gifts doesn’t change the fact that things are different and that they might be unhappy about it. A more practical approach is to coordinate gifts with your co-parent. Decide on a budget and let each other know what you’re getting for your kids so you won’t have any duplicates.

Talk To Your Children

Speaking with your children about how they feel and their expectations for the holidays is just as important as discussing them with your co-parent. Traditional holiday celebrations are often structured around time with the family, and they may feel sad that you won’t all be together. Let your children know you can make new traditions and that no matter what, you and your co-parent love them very much.

Even if you’re angry with your co-parent or dissatisfied with holiday arrangements, badmouthing them to your children is emotionally damaging. Acknowledge that things are different, but keep a positive attitude and assure them they can talk to you about anything they might be thinking or feeling.

Take Good Care Of Yourself

It can be easy to forget to tend to your own needs during the holiday season. To manage stress, take time to do things that benefit your mental and physical health, whether it’s reading a book, going to the gym, or making sure you get enough sleep. This will help keep stress to a minimum. If you’re feeling particularly stressed or anxious, don’t hesitate to reach out to friends, family, or a therapist. You might even find that your co-parent is happy to visit with the kids when you need some “me” time, which is a win-win for everyone.

Contact A Family Law Attorney To Learn More

Our child custody lawyers at Thomas, Conrad & Conrad help families throughout eastern Pennsylvania reach fair parenting agreements that put children’s needs and interests first. To schedule a consultation, contact us online or call our Bethlehem office at 610-867-2900.


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