The holidays can be stressful for just about anyone, with all of the special events, shopping, family obligations, performances, and crazy schedules to juggle. But if you’re a separated or divorced parent, worrying about child custody and co-parenting only adds another level of stress. Now you have to navigate separate household schedules, family expectations, lingering tensions, and both parents’ desire to spend as much time with the kids as possible.
Here are tips for surviving the holiday blues as a co-parent.
1. Make a Holiday Co-Parenting Plan
If you haven’t done this already, include a holiday schedule in your child custody agreement. You don’t want to be fighting over the holidays because you didn’t think to discuss it prior.
The best option is to sit down with your co-parent and build one together. Remember that when you’re trying to make a custody arrangement, you’ll have to make compromises. Try to coordinate celebrations with your extended families, talk about any trips you want to take so your co-parent is on the same page, and ensure that you both have quality time with the kids. And remember, you can celebrate a holiday on whatever day you like — no matter what the calendar says.
2. Start New Family Traditions
After a divorce or separation, it’s hard to let go of old traditions. You may even try to recreate past happiness for your children, but your family has changed, and that’s okay to accept. Now is the perfect time to make new traditions that are special to you and your kids. Sign up for a Turkey Trot or drive down your city’s Candy Cane Lane! Whatever you decide to do, keep the focus on finding something that is fun that your family can look forward to each year.
3. Coordinate Gifts
The holidays aren’t about gifts, but try telling that to your kids! We know that you want only the best for your children, but as a co-parent, try to consider the other’s situation. Even though you aren’t together anymore, you are still a team. With that in mind, it’s smart to set a budget, talk about what’s off-limits, and create a gift guideline. This way, you can avoid trying to out-doing one another with lavish gifts.
4. Don’t forget to take care of yourself
It’s easy for anyone to get overwhelmed during the holidays. The holidays are typically associated with giving but don’t neglect your own self-care. Think about it this way — the more you take care of yourself, the better you will take care of your kids.
If you run into any custody issues this holiday season, do not hesitate to reach out to Levine Law Center. Call our Portland family lawyers at (503) 433-8340 to schedule a consultation now.