Splitting parenting time during the winter holidays can be a challenging aspect of co-parenting, especially when kids are still very young. Yet, it’s a season filled with festivities, traditions, and the potential for memory-making, which means that it’s important for parents to navigate this period as thoughtfully and amicably as possible.
If you were ever a member of the Scouts, you learned that it is best to “always be prepared.” As a result, if you haven’t yet started discussing holiday plans with your ex, the time to do so is now. Last-minute arrangements can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts. An early agreement gives both parents and children a clear understanding of what to expect, reducing the potential for anxiety and disappointment.
Tips for a more joyful (and less stressful) season ahead
Whenever possible, your primary focus should be on what is best for the children. Consider their desires, traditions and the emotional impact of the holiday season as approached in different ways. The goal is to ensure they enjoy the holidays and feel loved and cared for by both parents.
To this end, while keeping some old traditions is important, you’ll want to be open to creating new ones. New traditions can help children adjust to the changes in the family dynamic and can be something unique they look forward to with each parent.
You’ll also want to document your holiday schedule in writing. A clear, written agreement can prevent confusion and serve as a reference point in case of disagreements. If you have yet to add holiday expectations to your formal parenting plan, know that you can seek legal guidance at any time to formalize these terms and render them enforceable.
With that said, flexibility is often key in holiday planning, especially as kids grow and their needs evolve. Be willing to compromise and find solutions that work for everyone involved. Whatever you do, aim to maintain open lines of communication with your co-parent. Discuss plans, changes and any issues respectfully. Remember, the way you communicate can significantly affect your children.