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4 Tips for (Successfully) Co-Parenting Through The Holidays

father and daughter hugging in front of holiday tree

The holiday season is upon us! Many will say this is the happiest time of the year, but if you are struggling with co-parenting, in a separated or divorced or divorcing situation, it can feel as though it’s the hardest time of the year. For many families, especially if the change in status or transition is newer, the holidays are a difficult time for both, the parents and the children to navigate. It is important for everyone to remember that no family or holiday celebration is ever perfect. As long as you are together with people you love, you and your children can make changes and transitions and create holiday traditions or new traditions together. Any holiday will be special if you and your family share love with one another.

Do not allow yourself to focus on resentment or sadness or disappointment. As many would say, comparison is the destroyer of joy. By comparing how things were in the past or used to be, you can focus on what you don’t have rather than focusing on a new life and new plans going forward. Focus and think about what is best for your kids. Whether the other parent is effectively co-parenting with you or not, it is your duty as a parent to create a memorable and happy holiday season for your children. It is crucial to that goal that you find the ability to compromise. It is not an easy feat, but keeping these goals in mind will allow you to see the big picture and create happy, meaningful memories over the holiday season for your children!

  1. Create a holiday calendar. Many parents are still working some of the days that their children are off or out of school. It is to the benefit of you, the other parent and your children that you work together to allow your children as much meaningful time with their parents as is possible. Look to the weeks ahead and see if you and the other parent can stagger your time off of work to allow each of you to have special time with the children. Christmas day and/or Christmas eve is often a hot-button issue because both parents would like to have time with their children on the holiday. While you can divide the Christmas period into a two-day time and divide it for each parent to have a 24-hour period, some parents opt to split the actual day of Christmas. Some parents focus so much on Christmas day and their desire to celebrate on the actual day when they could create an equally meaningful celebration on any other day immediately before or after the holiday.
  2. Work as a family to create a gift guide! This includes gifts that the children want to get for each parent, as well as gifts that the parents and their extended family and friends will get for the children. The children will not be excited by the prospects of two Christmas’s if they get the exact same gifts. Collaborate to allow each parent to get some of the things that the child(ren) wants, as well as each parent to come up with some unique or creative options. Ideally, the parents and their extended family can use a shared document such as a google document to create lists of gift ideas and then designate who will be purchasing the items.
  3. Create new traditions! One of the best things you can do for your children in a time of transition is to start new traditions! This gives your children something new and exciting to look forward to. Rather than them focusing on the past and what they are missing out on, hopefully they can focus on change as being an exciting, positive and that they will have new opportunities and experiences, even though they may have some changing dynamics.
  4. Treat Yourself or Do Something for Yourself! Often as parents, we focus so much on doing what’s best for the children, and making happy moments and memories for our children that we forget to consider our own needs. As with everything, this needs some balance. Take some “me time” for yourself during the crazy holiday season. It could be some simple quiet time or allowing yourself a gift such as a fancy dinner and then viewing Christmas lights, a spa day, or even some time spent volunteering and helping others. It does not matter so much what you select, but rather, that you are intentional about finding something meaningful and enjoyable for yourself that will build happy holiday memories!

Don’t listen to what anyone else tells you the holiday should “look like.” Use a time of transition to enjoy and thrive in changes. Reinvent yourself, your family and your holiday plans. Showing your children that releasing rigid expectations for holidays in favor of happy, successful transitions will allow your children to more successfully navigate life’s changes. While separation, divorce and changing family dynamics can be difficult at the holidays, having a positive outlook and the ability to successfully navigate changes will help your children build new traditions and happy holiday memories!

When you need help to work through holiday solutions in your family dynamics, please call Pingel Family Law today at (816) 208-8130. We have been helping families successfully navigate life’s changes for twenty years and we would be honored to have the privilege of helping your family!