Tips for Co-Parenting During the Holidays

The holidays can be stressful for everyone, with all of the shopping, special events, family tradition,  performances, and tight schedules to juggle. But if you’re a divorced or separate parent, worrying about co-parenting during the holidays and dividing time fairly adds another layer of stress. Now you have to navigate extended family expectations, separate household schedules, both parents’ wishes to spend as much time as possible with the children, and any lingering tensions.

In this article, we’ll discuss how you and your co-parent can prepare for the holidays, allowing you to share special moments that matter most with your children

At Brighter Day Law, our child custody attorneys can help you protect your children’s best interests and your parental rights during a custody battle or custody modification case.

To schedule a no-cost initial consultation with our legal team, contact our Colorado Springs family law firm today at (719) 225-4443.

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How Do You Coparent During Holidays?

Your kids deserve happy, less stressful holidays surrounded by those who love them. Regardless of what else you and your ex-spouse may disagree on, you’re likely to be on the same page when it comes to your children. To help you co-parent successfully during the holidays, here are five tips for successful co-parenting during the holidays that can help ease the stress for both you and your children.

1. Have a Holiday Co-Parenting Plan

Your child custody agreement must contain a visitation schedule and a holiday schedule. This will make planning easier because you and your co-parent have already decided how you’ll share the holiday season. However, what worked when your kids were younger may no longer work when they’re teenagers. If you need to revise your holiday parenting schedule, consult with a custody attorney in advance. An experienced attorney can help you and your kid’s other parent modify your holiday parenting plan.

FAQ: How Is Child Custody Determined in Colorado?

If you don’t have a schedule in place for your kid’s holiday schedule and their school breaks, the best option is to sit down with your ex-spouse and develop one together, especially if you can communicate amicably with the other parent. Don’t think that just because you have your children every Thursday, and Christmas this year falls on a Thursday, that you’ll be with the children on Christmas Day. If you need help or reach a standstill, contact a skilled family law attorney for legal advice.

co-parenting at christmas time

Remember that when trying to get an agreement on child custody, you’ll need to make compromises. Thus, do your best to coordinate holiday celebrations with your extended families, talk about any vacations you want to take so your ex-spouse is on the same page, and try to ensure that both of you spend quality time with the kids. And don’t forget that you can celebrate a holiday on any day you like — regardless of what the calendar says.

2. Accept That Things Have Changed

Since most holiday celebrations are structured around time with families, they may cause bitter feelings after a divorce or separation. Your kids might act out, or you might find yourself feeling frustrated and lost— especially if this is your first holiday time as two separate families. The truth is that change is daunting, and holiday celebrations can highlight that nothing will ever be the same.

Tips for co-parenting during the holidays

As you accept these changes, acknowledge that reality with your kids and validate everyone’s feelings and emotions. Also, it’s crucial to not only remain civil with your ex-spouse but also to communicate with them effectively about how your kids are handling this change. This way, both you and your co-parent will be on the same page if the holiday season causes tensions to rise.

3. Don’t Try to Buy Your Kid’s Love

Showering children with expensive gifts isn’t going to change the fact that you and your co-parent aren’t together anymore. This can also result in resentment or anger from your ex-spouse if your gift-giving habits are over the top. Instead, try to coordinate gifts with your ex-spouse and agree on a budget well before the holiday season. Having a holiday parenting plan in place can help avoid “gift competition” and also eliminate the probability of duplicate gifts.

4. Practice Self-Care

Parents who take care of themselves both physically and mentally are in a better place to take care of their kids. This is especially true for those trying to co-parent peacefully during the holidays. To reduce stress while managing everyone’s tight holiday schedules, eat well, get enough sleep, and protect your downtime.

Related Content: Taking Care of Yourself During a Divorce

Be intentional about spending quality time with family and friends, especially when your children are with your co-parent. And if you feel stress or conflict escalating beyond what you can manage, seek out help from a third party, such as a mediator, therapist, or family law lawyer.

5. Decide How You’ll Split Time During the Holidays

When it comes to establishing how to split time over the holidays, here are a few crucial options:

  1. Split hours during the holidays. For instance, you can let your co-parent spend the first half of Christmas Day with your kid, and then your kid visits you for the second half of the day. If you both value certain holidays, this is a good way to share time with your kids during a special moment.
  2. Give each holiday time to one parent. For instance, you get to spend Easter and President’s Day with your child, but your co-parent gets them for the Fourth of July. This might seem counterintuitive, but it’s often a good option when you and your co-parent aren’t on good terms. Having your children spend a full holiday with each parent allows them to enjoy the moment, and it’s less stressful than splitting each holiday time up between the parents. 
  3. Spend the holiday season together. If you and your co-parent are on good terms, this is a great solution. Your kids get to see both of you on a special day and don’t have to feel guilty about not spending time with one of their parents. If you and your co-parent have spouses, this is also a great opportunity to get accustomed to that dynamic. If you can all put your child first and celebrate special times together, you can have a happy holiday season.

You must discuss your options with a neutral third party, such as a family counselor or a family law attorney before you make any decisions. The earlier you make your decision, the easier it is for everyone. To avoid any squabbles, integrate your decision into your parenting schedule.

Contact Brighter Day Law For All Family Law Issues

We hope this article helps you prepare for the holiday season and school breaks with your co-parent and child. At Brighter Day Law, we’re ready to help, especially if you need help with your child custody order—whether that means standing by you throughout a child custody battle or helping you file for a modification of a child custody order after the fact. We are dedicated to helping families in the Colorado Springs area.

To schedule a no-cost initial consultation with our legal team, contact our Colorado Springs family law firm today at (719) 225-4443.