There’s no doubt about it: the holidays can be one of the toughest times of year for parents. It’s a time that’s already normally full of stress, laden with expectations, and weighed down with hectic, jam-packed schedules.
Add co-parenting into the mix, and you’ve got some real challenges ahead.
Failing to check the holiday parenting time schedule.
Co-parenting schedules can get hectic and confusing during the holidays. They often involve alternating holidays on different years, for example. And since the holiday may allow for, say, a full week at the ex’s instead of their normal twice weekly schedule, it’s easy to get the dates all mixed up.
So check that parenting schedule, and check it twice. Make sure you are ready for pick-up and drop off. Don’t make plans in the middle of the kid’s time. It’s a simple task, but it’s one that’s all-too-often overlooked.
If something comes up, as it always seems to during the holidays, remember, communication is key.
See also: How Technology Can Help You Co-Parent.
Failing to set a Christmas budget.
Divorced parents frequently get into gift-giving competitions. This can be extremely stressful for kids! By setting a Christmas budget, and by communicating what each parent plans to buy, you avoid this. You also avoid accidentally duplicating one another’s gifts.
Remember, you can’t buy your child’s love.
See also: Co-Parenting Your Way Through the Holidays.
Taking stress out on the ex.
Between the budget strains and the endless obligations, it’s easy for stress to ramp up on the holidays. Things that irritate you about your ex may be more irritating than ever. And if you’re just barely holding on to a professional, cordial co-parenting relationship you might find it strained to the limit.
Take a deep breath, remember the holidays will be over faster than you think, and try to avoid doing or saying anything you’ll regret in January. Remember, bad-mouthing the other parent or yelling at the other parent in front of your children can cause big problems later.
Wrecking holiday traditions.
You have only to read this heart-breaking story to understand why it’s so important both to know the other parent’s holiday traditions, and to honor them. While it’s important to make up new traditions to honor the new reality, you should always be mindful that the new traditions aren’t going to interfere.
Communication is, once again, the key. Have a long conversation with your ex about the traditions, and about who is doing what.
Failing to keep your sense of humor.
There will be bumps in the road at this time of year. It’s just a fact of life. If you can keep your sense of humor, you’ll weather them a lot better.
Remember, there’s no such thing as a “perfect” holiday. The kids will remember the time spent more than they’ll remember the gifts, and a conflict-free holiday is one of the best presents you can give them.