Co-parenting during any time of the year can be challenging, but the holidays present even more scheduling hurdles. Advance planning and thoughtful consideration from all parties involved can make the season less stressful for everyone. Above all, put the children’s needs first and try to keep emotion out of the equation.
The further in advance you can make your holiday plans, the better it is for everyone involved. That way, every part of the extended family knows when they will be able to see you and your children, and most important – the children know what to expect. If there is a parenting plan for the holidays in effect for your separation or divorce, stick with the plan because deviation could mean being held in contempt of court. If the plan says that changes are allowed with the agreement of both parties, then it is best to make changes in written form, even if only by email or text.
It is also a good idea to plan the children’s gifts with your ex-spouse to avoid duplicates or disappointments. Do not shower your children with extra gifts to assuage your guilt about the divorce. Quality time together is the best gift you could give them.
Another important tip is not to overdo the holiday schedule – cramming in as many holiday activities as possible may sound like fun, but dealing with the traffic and an overtired child is far from it. Enjoy being together and savor the downtime.
After you and your ex-spouse have discussed the holiday plan, sit down together with the children and explain it so that they know what to expect. They should be free to express any emotions they are feeling. Let them know that you understand their feelings and that the holidays and the back and forth will be hard for all of you. No matter how contentious your divorce, avoid speaking badly about your ex in front of your children; that person will always be a parent to your children although your own relationship may be over. Tell your children that your love for them is unconditional.
It is ideal when the extended family supports whatever plan you and your ex have come up with. Ask for their understanding and help in making it work. Remind demanding relatives that your lives have changed and so has your schedule, and that you are doing the best you can to be accommodating given the circumstances.
After you have made all your holiday plans, remember that things can happen to upset those plans. Do your best to remain flexible. Your ex is struggling with the same issues you are, so although it may be difficult, try to be understanding. Concentrate on the time you do have together and enjoy making new holiday traditions – this year and for years to come.
If you have questions about child custody or any family law matter, speak to an experienced Media child custody lawyer at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. Our attorneys have decades of combined experience and will provide personalized service to resolve your case quickly and reasonably. Contact us online or call 610-565-3700 to schedule a free initial consultation. We have offices in Media and West Chester serving clients in Norristown, Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.