Holidays With Your Co-Parent

December 13, 2022

By Denise Banks-Wilson

The Do’s and Don’ts of Co-Parent Holidays

The season of gifts, hot chocolate, and candy cane kisses is upon us and as with many holidays, some co-parents are faced with the question of how to make it a merry one for the kids and a sane one for themselves. A mom in my Co-Parenting Workshop shared that as a child she and her brother came to dread the holidays because they knew it would be just one more opportunity for their parents to “dig in their heels” when it came to parenting time flexibility. For her parents, it always seemed that the first sighting of Christmas lights would spark a hostile flame that was sure to burn throughout the holiday break – ruining it for her and her brother.

Enjoying the holidays should be the biggest gift under your child’s tree and helping them to be merry should be a parenting priority. But, when there’s co-parent chaos throughout the year – the holiday season isn’t always the moment where a joint parental proclamation to make it “all about the kids” becomes a reality. Below are five ways to make it a season of comfort and joy for the kids and a moment of co-parent pride for you.

5 Tips for Holiday Co-Parenting

  • If you can do the holidays together – do that. Typically, this only works for co-parents who get along well the other eleven months of the year. Even still, set expectations with the kids for what’ll they be seeing (moments under the mistletoe, group family pictures, etc.) and what it means for the family. We want the children to enjoy sharing the day with both parents without expecting that you’ll be reuniting.
  • If you choose to celebrate together, don’t assume that there’s space at the table for extras. The holidays are not the time to introduce children to your “plus one”. Even if your plus one is a long-term partner, consider making the sacrifice to leave them at home this time if there’s existing tension between them and your ex.
  • Be mindful of your kid’s schedule and activities. The “littles” may need time to be still and play with their toys and the “bigs” may want to spend time with their friends. Too many family gatherings can be exhausting for the kids making it difficult for them to enjoy the holiday. This is especially true when celebrations with extended families requires travel.
  • Make sure your Parenting Plan* is rock solid, with the kind of detail that specifies when you will have the children and -more importantly- when you will not. Create a child friendly calendar that lets the children when (date/time) they’ll be with their other parent. This avoids the appearance of an unexpected interruption of their time with you.
  • Remember: there are no holiday “do overs”! Even if it seems impossible to make merry with your co-parent – make a commitment to grin, bear it, and fake it till you make it. For your kids, this will be the gift that keeps on giving.

*Let me help you create your rock solid Parenting Plan that establishes a roadmap for your child’s journey in to their new normal and guardrails for your co-parent interactions. Contact me to schedule your complimentary 15 minute consultation and begin the journey today.

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