The Holiday season is typically a fun and joyful time.  However, for recently divorced couples trying to navigate co-parenting—it can feel less than jolly. A little planning goes a long way to help parents avoid anxiety and tension with minimal eggnog intervention.

Here are just a few tips for a drama-free holiday season:

  1. Coordinate and Communicate

Communicate your holiday plans with the other parent from the outset to make sure you are both on the same page regarding holiday parenting time. Yes. We know the “wound is fresh” and communication can be difficult.  But coordinating holiday schedules now will help your family navigate a potentially stressful season successfully.

Remember that this is a special time not just for you, but also for your children. By sacrificing time with your children in your home so that they can spend time with their other parent, you are helping them create lifelong holiday memories with both parents.

In some cases, parents agree to parenting time around the holidays through a separation or custody agreement. Some parents may also choose to swap holidays, with children spending time with one parent on Christmas and the other parent on New Year’s. Whatever your specific situation may be, communication is the key to a successful holiday season and the end goals are happy kids and happy memories.

  1. Be Flexible and Avoid the “Blame Game”

Having a plan is great, but let’s face it—even the best laid plans sometimes fall apart for reasons outside of anyone’s control.  Kids may get sick. Weather may put a wrench in travel. Last minute opportunities to spend time with relatives may pop up.

When your holiday plans do not unfold exactly as planned, a little flexibility can go a long way. You may need to shift the dates that children will spend with each parent. Maybe you decide to swap parenting time this holiday season for the next. Whatever the circumstances, there is bound to be a win-win solution.

  1. Get a Referee

So, “it’s complicated.” You and your ex are simply not on good terms, and you are unable to agree on a co-parenting plan. Before things get “ugly” you should consider seeking help. Parenting plans can be modified, and custody orders may be modified. But before you rush to court, consider meeting with a neutral, third party such as a family mediation attorney to discuss your needs and desired outcomes. By coming together, you can work towards a parenting plan that not only works for this year’s holiday season, but all of those yet to come.

  1. Self-Care is Key

It’s perfectly normal to feel anxiety and stress involved in co-parenting during holidays. It’s a stressful time under “normal” circumstances—let alone on the heels of a divorce. Make sure to prioritize your physical and emotional wellbeing. Take time to get exercise, read a book, schedule a massage, or spend time outdoors. Breathe.

Your children are smart, and they will pick up on any stress you and their other parent are feeling around the holidays. Now is the time to decompress after a long year and enter the holidays relaxed and ready to enjoy every moment you have with your children.

  1. Start New Family Traditions

Don’t waste valuable time and energy grieving the loss of “old” family traditions. Embrace this journey and get excited about making new ones!  Divorce is not the end of your family. You still have your children—and many more years of happy memories and new traditions ahead. Instead of lamenting the loss, find new ways to celebrate the holidays and begin building new holiday traditions that your children will look forward to each year.

If you and your ex-partner cannot agree on a co-parenting plan, consider seeking the help of an experienced family law attorney. At Edens Law Group we will take a comprehensive approach to your matter to ensure you have a smooth co-parenting experience throughout the holiday season.  Contact us today to schedule a case evaluation to help you decide the best path.