How To Minimize Stress While Co-Parenting Through The Holidays
For many, the holiday season is a time of rest and wonderment – when the magic of our childhood seems real again, and the possibilities feel endless. It’s a season that encourages us to embrace the spirit of giving, reconnect with loved ones, and spend time in the warmth that the togetherness of this time of year always brings with it.
For others, the holidays feel less significant and can even cause a great deal of anxiety or dread. They feel like they are constantly being pulled to this work function or that family get-together – like their time isn’t theirs. If fast-forwarding to January were an option, they’d choose that route in a heartbeat!
No matter which category you find yourself in, if you’re a co-parent, you’ll likely be facing some challenges unique to this season, like scheduling conflicts, communication issues, emotional tension, or even some level of loneliness. Whether you are a veteran co-parent who has their routine down-pat or someone facing their first holiday season following their divorce or separation, it probably goes without saying that you don’t want the issues of adults getting in the way of your children having an enchanting and joyful experience. So, in this blog, you’ll find five tips for minimizing your own stress while co-parenting this season to ensure you can keep the magic alive for your kids!
1. Make A Plan Ahead Of Time.
Many parenting plans already include a section covering how holidays will be split or shared between parents, whether by splitting the day up evenly, trading off each year, or spending them together based on the state of the co-parents’ relationship. However, we all know there is more to the picture than just the day of the holiday, so making a schedule early on can be a proactive way to avoid the stress of not knowing where the kids will be and when.
For example, if you have extended family in town for a short time and want your kids to visit with them, you’ll want to work those dates out in advance with your co-parent. Similarly, there will likely be events that they want your kids to attend with them, too. Many parents find scheduling apps like WeParent, Cozi, FamCal, OurFamilyWizard, and 2Houses beneficial for sharing family calendars and schedules and communicating.
2. Keep Communication Clear, Prompt, and Efficient.
And while on the subject of communication, it must be as clear, prompt, and efficient as possible during this time of year. The other tips in this list pretty much rely on this one, because nothing will cause more stress than a lack of communication between you and your co-parent. Having a productive conversation regarding your shared children does not require you to be best friends, or to even like each other!
Effective communication involves leaving your past resentments or disagreements out of the conversation and focusing on the immediate issue – whether coordinating holiday plans, resolving a problem, or a simple routine update. Verbal conversations are important, but it is also a good idea to reiterate those conversations in a way that puts them on record and eliminates confusion, whether that be through text or email.
Communication between co-parents is vital no matter what time of year it is. Still, during the hectic holiday season, it becomes even more critical to mitigate your stress and create an enjoyable environment for your children.
3. Put Your Kids First.
Again, you likely don’t want anything to jeopardize your children’s ability to enjoy the holiday season, so putting them first in every decision you make is essential. If this is the first holiday season following your divorce or separation, their anxiety and emotional stress can be incredibly high, and it won’t help anything if you and your ex are constantly bickering or engaged in conflict about how you will split their time. So, set aside your personal grievances and focus your energy instead on creating positive and memorable experiences for them.
4. Be Flexible.
While creating and following a schedule for this time of year is vital, it is also important to remember that things don’t always go according to plan. Plus, it’s impossible to anticipate every little dilemma that will arise. Life – especially with children – is full of unexpected circumstances, so flexibility is essential to master. If your co-parent asks for a sudden, but minor, change to the agreed schedule, show a little grace. It is more likely than not that you will need to ask the same of them at some point in the future. So, respect them as you would like to be respected were the roles reversed.
5. Seek Professional Help As Needed.
If you and your co-parent can’t seem to go a day without a disagreement or if you have a challenging time resolving them, it may be time to seek the aid of a family attorney. An excessive amount of drama and conflict during the holidays doesn’t benefit anyone, but it can negatively impact your children. The problems you are experiencing now will likely only grow if you don’t take the time to work through them.
The root of your problems may be that your children have outgrown the current parenting plan and it needs to be modified. You can seek a modification through litigation, mediation, or collaboration, depending on your circumstances. A skilled and experienced modification attorney can help you understand your legal options and develop unique solutions that benefit your children, as well as you and your co-parent.
The Freed Marcroft Team Is Here To Help Co-Parents And Their Children Have A Stress-Free Holiday Season
When it comes to family law in Connecticut, families trust us to craft effective strategies, provide candid legal advice, and deliver results. We won’t just tell you what you want to hear; we’ll tell you what you need to know – because that’s what good lawyers do. Our firm stands for those who actively choose how they want to live their life! Call today to request a consultation with a member of our team and learn more about how we can help you reach your goals.