When most people think of the holidays, they think of celebrations, spending time with family and friends, and making memories with loved ones. However, the holiday season can look very different after separation and divorce, especially when children are involved. Add in a global pandemic and this holiday season will likely be quite different and unique for most families, particularly when co-parenting is in play.
While a custody order or parenting agreement typically directs which parent has custodial time on a given holiday, there are several ways that you can help alleviate confusion and hostility to ensure this holiday season is memorable for your children for the right reasons. Here are some tips on surviving the holiday season while co-parenting.
Tip #1: If you have a custody schedule, re-read it.
While terms like “Father gets the days between school release and Christmas and Mother get the days after Christmas through New Year’s” may seem straightforward, we advise clients to print out a calendar in order to review what the actual breakdown of custodial time will look like. If it’s not spelled out in the agreement, make sure that you and your ex agree as to how and when custodial exchanges occur – will holiday pick-up and drop-off differ from the exchanges that occurred during the rest of the year? Armed with that knowledge, it is extremely easier to plan events and celebrations that you and your children can look forward to together.
Tip #2: Communicate, communicate, communicate.
While it may have been the norm in years past to take your children to see Santa Claus in the mall or go to large family gatherings, that may not be the case in 2020. Make sure that you are on the same page with your children’s other parent with respect to which activities you do and do not think are in the children’s best interests in light of the pandemic. Do you both approve of visiting relatives and friends? What forms of travel are you both comfortable with? Are there any activities that either parent strongly feels should be off-limits this year? Having these conversations ahead of time could help protect your children and prevent them from witnessing any disagreements between you and your ex.
Tip #3: Be flexible.
Keep in mind who the holidays are most special for your children. While it may seem frustrating to trade or give up a parenting day to accommodate your former partner’s plans, take a deep breath, and think about your children’s best interests. In addition to making sure that your children are happy, being flexible and open to compromise may result in your co-parent being willing to compromise with you down the road.
Tip #4: Make new traditions.
The fact that the holidays look a little different this year does not have to be a negative thing. Maybe it is the year to bust out the pajamas and have a full-day holiday movie marathon, at-home cookie decorating contest, or schedule a Zoom session for carol-singing with your loved ones. Keep the magic alive for your children and ensure that the 2020 holidays are your best yet!
If you’re struggling with how to co-parent during the holiday season, contact the Law Office of Joseph Cerino today.