The holiday season is supposed to be a time of excitement, happiness, and joy for families. Most parents want to spend their holidays with their children; however, parents who have recently separated or divorced their spouse find it challenging to decide who gets the kids for the holidays.
There is no doubt that co-parenting is hard, but it is healthier for children to spend time with both parents in order to receive input from both sides in major life decisions.
The family law dictates that there is no superior parent when it comes to co-parenting. A child needs both mother and father equally; hence, the child should bond with both of them on equal terms.
When deciding how to collaborate and schedule time for the holidays, there are a number of factors that the parents should take into account. This includes family traditions, the child’s age, how well the parents get along, and the kind of relationship the child has with each parent.
Here are a few simple co-parenting tips that can help you navigate through the holidays and reduce stress for both parents:
1. Show Flexibility
No amount of planning can account for everything that might happen. Effective planning is essential, but you should also maintain some form of flexibility in your schedule for smooth co-parenting over the holidays. For instance, if your child gets ill or if your in-laws decide to pay an unexpected visit, you may have to scale back and adjust some of the things you had planned. Goodwill and flexibility make co-parenting a much smoother process and establishes a healthy living situation for your kids too!
2. Make Long-Term Plans
It is better to plan ahead rather than wait until the last minute to decide who should get what over the holidays. Both parents should sit down and have a calm, mature discussion to determine how to spend the holidays while keeping the best interest of their kids at heart. Be willing to let go of activities and traditions that become more stressful than enjoyable for you and your kids. Your plan should adapt to the changing needs of your children even if you have a solid parenting plan. For example, the needs of a 2-year old will be different from the needs of a 14-year old child.
3. Prioritize Your Children
Before making any decisions or setting schedules, you should always ask yourself if your actions will be good for the kids. For example, if you try to adjust three events in one day, your children will not get enough time to take a break, relax, and spend quality time with you. Sure, you are trying to create memories, but you are always creating exhaustion and chaos for your children.
4. Take Care of Yourself
Holidays can be overwhelming while co-parenting. Make sure that you take care of your physical and emotional health through the process. Keeping your health in check will also ensure that your children are taken care of and entertained. No child wants to see their parent suffer or be emotionally unstable.
Not every parent wants holidays to feel overly excessive. Both parents should discuss and coordinate gifts before purchasing anything. For instance, maybe your ex does not want the child to be exposed to video games at a very young age. Even your in-laws would want to give presents so be sure to set clear guidelines about what is acceptable and what is not. Co-parenting becomes much easier when you coordinate gifts earlier and establish a reasonable plan from the start. Don’t try to overcompensate for the living situation by buying too many presents for your child. Your aim should be to ensure equality and avoid buying two of everything.
Why Is Holiday Schedule Important for Co-Parents?
Holidays are a chance for children to bond with family members that they don’t often see. Setting up a holiday or visitation schedule is important for co-parents to make plans with their children. It also provides security to children because they will know where they have to be for each holiday. Plus, a well-planned holiday schedule eliminates the chances of fights or arguments between both parents.
Co-Parenting and Family Law
Under family law, children have the right to have a meaningful relationship with both parents as long as they are protected from harm. The court rules the decision in favor of the child by considering the need to protect them from harm. The family law is gender-neutral and does not make assumptions about superiority among parents.
Many people choose to obtain a written agreement for co-parenting to avoid any ambiguity. A co-parenting agreement typically lays down the following guidelines:
- How specific aspects will be handled, such as your child’s education, religious upbringing, and traditions
- The visitation schedule, including the holidays
- What role each parent will play in the child’s upbringing and care
Depending on the circumstances, the agreement can be as flexible or as detailed as you want. It is best to draft a co-parenting agreement before conception, but you can choose to create it later on according to changing circumstances. A co-parenting agreement will help both partners understand what everyone wants and expect from the arrangement and flag up areas of disagreement. It will also help parents decide whether their co-parenting styles will be compatible and in the best interest of their kids. Although it is never possible to dictate everything in advance, but knowing that you both share the same goals and aims can reduce the chances of disputes in the future.
Co-parenting can be an overwhelming process for those who have been recently separated or divorced from their spouse. If you are considering fostering a relationship with your ex-spouse on the basis of co-parenting, it is best to seek the assistance of an expert family lawyer to understand the next steps.