With its endless amount of twinkling lights, festive decorations, and promise of restful quality time with loved ones, the holiday season should ideally be a time of joy and celebration. However, if you’re recently divorced and learning to navigate co-parenting through the holiday season for the first time, you might be overwhelmed with stress, and working through an immense amount of emotional turbulence. There may be lingering feelings of regret, sadness, or even bitterness that aren’t leaving much room for holiday cheer in your heart – you may even be wishing that you could skip right through to New Years for a fresh start.
At the same time, you likely want to ensure that your children can still enjoy a magical and memorable holiday season, especially this year. Whether you and your spouse have been able to maintain an amicable relationship or not, it is still possible to prepare for a harmonious experience, even if you’re new to shared custody arrangements. In this blog, we’ll be sharing 6 practical strategies and heartfelt advice to help you embrace the spirit of togetherness and create a holiday season filled with warmth, love, and cherished memories, so that the magic of this time of year remains alive for your children!
- Make A Plan Ahead Of Time.
It goes without saying that this time of the year is busy! As a co-parent, you don’t have the luxury of only worrying about your own schedule – you must consider yours, your children’s, and their other parent. There are likely things you’ll both want to do with the children during these months, events you’ll want to attend; it is imperative that you do your best to plan now and create a schedule for as much time as you can.
Your parenting plan might already tackle the issue of who will have the children on each holiday, but if it doesn’t, it is especially important to make a plan, sooner rather than later. This will vary depending on your specific circumstances, but some co-parents are in a position where they are able to celebrate holidays jointly with the children; obviously, this isn’t the case for everyone. Others may choose to alternate holidays (one parent has the kids this year, the other parent has them next year, and so on), or split the holiday evenly (kids go from one parent’s house to the other’s at a set time).
The actual day of the holiday is not the only thing to plan for, though. There will be other events, parties, and celebrations that need to be discussed, especially if they do not correlate with the timesharing schedule. Many co-parents have found success using a host of apps, which can be beneficial year-round! Apps like Our Family Wizard, Onward, Custody X Change, Cozi, and App Close help alleviate the stress of scheduling conflicts and communication issues.
- Keep Communication Consistent And Thorough.
In order to plan ahead of time, you will need to be sure that you are communicating with your co-parent promptly, clearly, and efficiently. This step may be a little difficult for some parents who have a tense relationship or tend to argue any time they talk to one another. It’s recommended that you try to make face-to-face or phone conversations to discuss your shared children possible, even if they’re infrequent. However, this isn’t always doable; luckily, the digital age makes it easier than ever to keep communication explicit and reliable, with the added bonus of always being on the record. Texts and emails help keep miscommunication and confusion at a minimum, and maintain accountability for both parties.
- Put The Kids First.
You and your ex probably don’t agree on everything – in fact, you may not agree on much. But there’s a pretty good chance you both want what’s best for your kids, no matter what the current state of your relationship is or the events surrounding your separation or divorce. Keep in mind that this season – especially if it is the first one following your divorce – is likely stressful for them as well. Don’t make it worse for them by falling into a pattern of arguments and bickering with their other parent. Keep things as positive as possible, and encourage your children to enjoy their time and experiences, even if they’re not with you.
- Be Flexible.
Yes, it’s extremely important to plan ahead; however, this is life we’re talking about, and sometimes unexpected things happen and you just have to roll with the punches. Flexibility is key, even if you think you know what every minute of November and December looks like for you and your kids. While you may not be able to accommodate every request from your co-parent, remember that you will likely ask for flexibility at some point in the future, so handle the situation like you would want them to handle it if the roles were reversed.
- Seek Professional Guidance If Necessary.
If it seems like you and your former spouse don’t agree on much and aren’t likely to successfully plan for the holiday season as a team, or if the current parenting plan simply isn’t tackling the tough issues anymore, it may be time to seek the aid of a knowledgeable and experienced family lawyer. You may think waiting until after the holidays may be more appropriate, but this may only lead to more conflict and tension, which isn’t how you want your kids to remember their holidays. It is in your best interest to take the time to work through the problems now, in an effective way.
Mediation is a collaborative way for both parties to face the issues in their co-parenting relationship, while simultaneously benefitting from the guidance of a skilled family attorney who can guide you to unique solutions. You and your ex remain in full control of the outcome, because a mediator does not have the power to impose a settlement on you.
Dailey Law Offices Wishes You Joy And Comfort This Season
If you and your co-parent need legal intervention in order to have a successful holiday experience, trust Dailey Law Offices to guide you in the right direction. Our lead attorney, Stephanie Dailey, has over 18 years of experience and is committed to providing an exceptional level of service to clients. Call to schedule your free consultation today and learn more about how we can assist you.