Although the holiday season should be a time for joy and togetherness, parents who are separated can find themselves more stressed and depressed than holly and jolly. Naturally, both parents wish to spend the holidays with their children. The inability to do so – or having to navigate a complicated custody plan – can put a damper on holiday festivities. Use these tips to help you co-parent during the holidays with as little anxiety and stress on everyone as possible.
Give yourself time to plan how you and your family will navigate the holidays as a newly separated or divorced couple. Waiting until the last minute will only add to the stress – both on you and your kids. You should create a comprehensive plan for how you will handle the holidays when you create a settlement agreement with your spouse during your divorce or legal separation. Planning ahead can help you and your children know what to expect, avoiding last-minute surprises.
Put the Kids First
Navigating the holidays post-breakup may mean trying to get along with your ex at a shared family function or coming up with a way to divide custody on holidays and special occasions. Either way, put the kids first in your decision-making. Use their holiday experience as a center point for your custody planning. Ask your children – in a way that does not pressure them to answer one way or the other – what they would like to do for the holidays. Then, do your best to accommodate their wishes. This can make it easier to make your holiday plans.
Communicate With Your Ex
You can avoid a great deal of stress and confusion by communicating with your spouse about your holiday plans from the beginning. Discuss which gifts you would like to give the kids, for example, to avoid repeated gifts or arguments. If you wish to do something special for the kids, make sure your ex is on board before telling the kids about your plans. Open communication can help you and your ex plan a special and enjoyable holiday season for your kids with minimal disagreements.
Be Flexible and Willing to Compromise
It is normal to want the holiday season to be everything that you imagined, even after you get divorced or legally separated. Realize, however, that this may not be possible with your new life. You must be willing to be flexible and make compromises to make the holiday work for everyone – especially your kids. This may mean altering your vision of the holidays or putting your plans on hold for a year. Sometimes, it is better to compromise with your ex and keep the peace than to stubbornly stick to your plans and start arguments.
Don’t Neglect Self-Care
It is okay to be depressed, anxious or overwhelmed during the holidays while co-parenting. You are handling a less-than-ideal situation the best that you can. Keep your own self-care in mind during this difficult time of year, both physically and mentally. Make time for some of your favorite holiday traditions, and spend the holiday with loved ones, even if you cannot spend it with your kids. Seek help from a therapist if the holidays are particularly hard.
Need Legal Help Co-Parenting During the Holidays? Speak to a Family Lawyer in Fort Collins, CO
If you are struggling to create a child custody agreement that determines how you will share custody around the holidays, contact an attorney for assistance. At The Law Office of Stephen Vertucci, LLC, we handle complex child custody matters and can help your family mediate or litigate a resolution. Our Fort Collins child custody attorneys have what you need to get through any family law issue, no matter how difficult or emotional. For more information, tips or advice about how to get through the holiday season as a divided family, call (970) 900-1800 for a consultation with a lawyer.