Sorting out and establishing visitation or co-parenting schedules for the holidays can be stressful and unpleasant, but it does not have to be. If it is stressful and unpleasant for you, it is probably also for the kids, and that is not what most parents want for their kids any time, and in particular during a season that is supposed to highlight our better natures.
Hopefully, the following tips will help.
1) Establish a standard that works for all – Alternating holidays every year works well for some families. If the other parent has the kids for Thanksgiving or Christmas this year, next year will be your turn turn. A regular plan can be helpful in eliminating conflict.
2) Be flexible and compromise – Despite your best efforts to create a regular standard, life happens and it is important to be willing to be flexible, compromise and make changes to adjust to the inevitable turns in the road that don’t work with the standard schedule.
3) Be respectful – Treat the other parent with respect. You may not want to be spouses or partners anymore, but you need to move forward in a way that will create a positive and mutual co-parenting relationship; honoring the other as a parent. This is important even when the other spouse does not parent the same way you do or would like them to.
4) Don’t mix issues – Bringing in relationship issues between you and the other parent or other parenting disagreements may exacerbate the problem and make the holiday schedule even more difficult.
5) Choose your battles – Most everyone has some holidays that are more important to them than others. Try to honor the other parent’s most valued holiday as much as possible.
6) Protect the children – Your children will have negative memories of the holidays if they have to witness their parents arguing about the holiday schedule. Better yet, work to solve the problems and don’t argue, but if you must don’t do it in front of the kids. It is the parents responsibility to ensure that they have positive memories of the holiday season.
7) Plan ahead – Start discussions about the holiday schedule sooner than later, the longer you wait the more stress you will add.
8) Focus on you – You have no control over the other parent’s behavior, but you do have control over yours. It is often difficult to take the high road, but more often than not it is the road worth taking.
9) Ask the kids – Find out what it is important to your children. It may be that a particular holiday gathering is special for them; if so, it is probably worth trying to accommodate them.
10) Plan New Traditions – The reality is that you will probably spend holiday time with your children than you did before. Use it as an opportunity to make the time you have together special and meaningful and create new traditions and memories that you and your children will cherish.
11) Breathe – The holidays can be stressful even if you without divorce, breakups and other family problems, so take time to relax and enjoy the holidays with family and friends and find time to be grateful.