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The Co-parent’s Guide to Navigating the Holidays

December 6, 2021

Est. Reading: 3 minutes

Even in normal circumstances, the holidays are full of stress. Shopping for presents, baking for get-togethers, and worrying about your regular obligations is challenging. The stress and challenges of a normal holiday season are intensified for those navigating the season for the first time as co-parents.

Assuming you and your ex put together a parenting plan, the first piece of advice for making it through the holidays is to stick to the script. Remember that your normal parenting time or visitation schedule will be supplanted by the special holiday schedule. If you don’t have the holiday schedule ironed out, it’s best to be proactive, sit down with your ex, and make any arrangements you can. 

Apart from the parenting time schedule and other logistical considerations, there are several things you can do to help make the holidays wonderful for your children (and yourself). The holidays this year will be different, but different doesn’t have to mean worse

Speak with your kids about the holidays. 

Kids generally thrive when they know what to expect. They might be spending time with one parent up until a certain time on Christmas Day. Or, you and your ex might alternate years for having the kids on Christmas Day. Whatever’s going to happen, the hand-offs between co-parents (and almost everything else) will run more smoothly when children know what’s going to happen. 

Let them know that things will be different. If a tradition simply cannot be continued, don’t keep it a secret until the kids start asking questions about it.

an image of a woman and her child during the holidays

Embrace new traditions. 

The first holiday season as a co-parent can be an opportunity for you and your children to make new traditions. Plus, carrying out old traditions without one parent can be an unwelcome reminder of the new normal everyone’s trying to figure out. 

The possibilities for new traditions are endless. Don’t forget to focus on what really matters: creating memories and spending time together as a family.

Don’t try to out-do your ex. 

Too often, co-parents try to out-do each other when it comes to material things. Your financial circumstances probably changed after your split. That’s normal. Try to come to an agreement with your ex about presents. If one of your kids is asking for one big thing, consider giving the present together.

Whether or not your ex agrees to be sensible about gifts, remember that your kids will remember the fun times much longer than big presents.

Pick your battles. 

You don’t have to put up with unfair behavior from your ex. That said, it helps to be flexible during the holidays. If a child falls sick when they are supposed to be at your ex’s house, consider giving up some of your time so your child can enjoy the holidays with both parents. Despite any feelings you may have for your ex, don’t forget that your kids want to celebrate the season with both of their parents.

The key to any co-parenting relationship is communication, flexibility, and a solid parenting plan. If you need help crafting or modifying your Arizona parenting plan, our family law attorneys would be honored to help. Contact Monahan Law Firm today to discuss your family law matters.

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Attorney Patrick Monahan

Patrick Monahan

Patrick Monahan is the managing partner of Monahan Law Firm, PLC. Patrick began his legal career practicing real estate, construction, and general business litigation.
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