3 Co-parenting Tips for the Holidays
The winter holidays are upon us, and for many parents, that means a deviation from the regular custodial access schedule. While it can be a time of fun and excitement, for children whose parents live apart, the holidays can also be stressful. To make sure you and your children enjoy the holiday season, here are some co-parenting tips to keep in mind:
1. Think About How the Holiday Schedule Impacts the Children
Most parents want to celebrate holidays with their children. While some parents choose to transition between homes on the actual day of the holiday, other parents decide to alternate the entire holiday annually.
For parents who split the day of the holiday, try to see things from your children’s perspective. When you were young, did you like to stop what you were doing to sit in the car and go somewhere else? Your children may share those feelings, especially if they are very young.
When children transition between homes, it often requires a lot of physical and emotional preparation on their part. Physically, the child must move from one location to another. Emotionally, the child must go through two celebrations in one day: two meals, two sets of family, and two waves of excitement. This can prove to be exhausting for children (and adults!). Keep that in mind if you are considering a schedule where the children transition—sometimes multiple times—over a 24-hour period, set reasonable expectations in case your child is tired, cranky, or overwhelmed.
If you alternate the holiday, remember that your children can be equally excited to celebrate with you and your side of the family no matter the day. The holiday is more of a feeling of togetherness than just a day on the calendar. You can use this opportunity to create new traditions with your children and give them even more things to look forward to each holiday season.
2. Consider Family Traditions
When deciding on a holiday schedule, it is important to consider how each side of the family celebrates the holidays. For example, can you trade off one important holiday for another each year? Or does one side need to travel to see extended family that your children look forward to seeing?
If you share the actual day of the holiday, keep in mind the timing of family celebrations and times of worship. It is unavoidable that your children will miss some part of the celebrations, but hopefully, you and your extended family can accommodate so the children can attend the most important ones. Try to focus on the time you do have with your children, instead of the things the children will miss.
3. Address Holiday Schedules Early
Every year, you know when the winter holidays will fall. There is no reason to wait until one week before to start the discussion of the holiday schedule. Even if your Custody Order or Parenting Plan is clear, check in with the other parent to make sure you are both on the same page. If there is ambiguity or confusion in your Order or Parenting Plan, raise the issue early so you and your extended family can begin planning. If you cannot reach an agreement, consider mediation or Parent Coordination to resolve the dispute. Some courts also have special dockets assigned to resolve holiday disputes in active litigation cases.
If you have questions about co-parenting or Parent Coordination services, please contact Laurie Wasserman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-842-1070. The legal team at the Law Office of Laurie M. Wasserman is here to help guide and advocate for you.
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