The holidays are a time for family, fun, festivities, traditions and memories. When you’re also dealing with a divorce or breakup, the holiday season can be a challenging time. You’re probably wondering how you can make sure your kids have a happy holiday season while balancing many competing interests for your resources, your time, your money, and your emotional bandwidth.

Creating – well in advance — a workable holiday co-parenting plan is one of the best ways to mitigate some of the stress related to this time of year. With the right approach and some help from an experienced family law attorney or mediator, you can create a plan that works for both you and your child’s other parent!  They may have ideas you have not thought of because you may have only been doing co-parenting a short while, yet the professionals you talk to will have dealt with lots of ideas that work for people.

Here’s how to create a holiday co-parenting plan that suits everyone:

1) Review Your Child’s Schedule

First things first, take a look at your child’s school calendar and try to figure out what days are off from school during the holiday break. This will help you determine when your child will need supervision over the break and when they will not.  Create a list of important holidays, including those that you celebrate and those that your child’s other parent celebrates.

2) Decide on Who Will Be Responsible for What

Next, decide who will be responsible for taking care of each child during the holiday break. This includes transportation to the places your child needs to go including the other parent, school, activities, church and holiday parties. Then work out which of these dates you’re most likely to be able to celebrate with your child and which days are important for your child to be with their other parent.  This will probably involve some compromise and creativity.

3) Discuss Travel and Extended Family Visits

If you are planning on spending time with your extended family this holiday season, it’s important to make sure your co-parent is on board with the plan.

Obtain the other parent’s approval well in advance by weeks, not just days so that all questions are asked and resolved and both of you know exactly what will be occurring with travel, communication, sleeping arrangements and contact with relatives. Please do not wait until the last minute to ask their permission. Make sure everyone involved knows what days you’ll be gone and when you’ll be back and the itinerary. If they have any concerns or questions, address them as soon as possible so everyone knows what to expect.

If your co-parent doesn’t agree with your plans to travel with your children, don’t be afraid to speak up! You can always talk about this together in a calm and rational manner, where both sides are heard. In order to avoid arguments and hurt feelings, it’s important that both parents agree on what the plan looks like before the holidays arrive.

Successful co-parenting requires that you keep agreements with your ex, respect each other’s parenting style and remain open to effective communication.

Holidays are a time to get together with your family and friends, and even though there is a great deal of social pressure to make it happen during the season, if it becomes just too much, reschedule, reset, and simply extend your season into the new year. Juggling everything and everybody can leave you feeling like you live in a circus.  Slowing things down, taking a little down time to re-balance and reschedule is a great way to refocus your perspective and fine tune your values at this time of year to ensure you are working together in the best interest of your children and your well-being.

Looking for a way to make your holiday co-parenting plan work? We’re here to help! McMurdie Law and Mediation has provided exceptional family law representation and mediation since 1995 in Tempe and surrounding areas. Call 480-777-5500 to schedule a consultation today.