Co-parenting through the holidays

Celebrating the holiday season can be stressful, especially if you’re navigating it as a co-parent after divorce. We’re continually reminded that the holidays are a time for families to be together, which can add to the seasonal anxiety for families of divorce. Family time is important to everyone, especially time with extended family–an opportunity that might only come several times a year.

Creating a plan with your ex for holiday expectations can help alleviate potential conflict and reduce the amount of stress you and your kids might experience.

Tips for a good holiday co-parenting plan

The first holiday after the divorce is typically the most challenging. It’s a time of adjustment and parents and kids alike will be trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Extra effort invested in a plan will be worthwhile to keep the conflict at bay. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Work out the details. A plan for the holiday season might address how time will be split between families, how to honor past traditions and create new ones, the potential financial differences between families–particularly in regard to equity for gifts and a process to ensure there aren’t any duplicate gifts.
  • Accept change. Holidays don’t have to be what they’ve always been and are likely not to be. Talk about what’s most important and what to let go. Take the opportunity to be a good role model in accepting change and to learn about and explore new traditions. Learn to appreciate the time spent together and let the rest go.
  • Keep a positive mindset. Change your focus so that experiencing something new is exciting. You may need to reinvent your image of a happy family holiday and let go of the expectations.
  • Take time for yourself. Taking some time for yourself will help to keep you in the right frame of mind.

A solid holiday parenting plan might address important details like time arrangements and special activities, but first and foremost, it puts the kids first. Children will thrive when given the opportunity to build holiday memories with both parents and their extended family without the potential conflict.

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