The holidays can be a stressful time for various reasons, especially for unmarried parents who split parenting time. Divorced or otherwise unmarried parents may find themselves trying to balance a lot of uncertainty with trying to give the kids a merry and bright experience. For many co-parents, a court-ordered parenting plan specifically outlines holiday parenting schedules. However, in the absence of a court order, here are three tips for making the next holiday season as happy and stress-free as possible for the kids.
Try to come to an agreement that allows both parents time with the kids
Some parents choose to alternate holidays from one year to the next. Others may create a holiday custody schedule where the children spend the day before a holiday with one parent and then visit the other parent the next morning. It’s important to consider what you think will best benefit your children when deciding where they spend the holidays. In most cases, being allowed to see both parents is in the best interest of the kids.
Make sure that you and the other parent are clear about the schedule
Be sure you and your ex are on the same page when it comes to holiday schedules. Even if you’re on good terms, you can still benefit from putting everything in writing. This prevents misunderstandings and provides you with guidelines in case something comes up and changes need to be made. There is no right or wrong way to celebrate the holidays with your children after divorce if the kids are happy, healthy and allowed to enjoy their time with each parent.
Allow for flexibility
If something unexpected comes up, try to be flexible and adaptable to let the holidays remain stress-free for the children. Sometimes a last-minute change may be needed to allow the kids to attend a special event or party. If it works with your schedule, allowing your kids to attend these unscheduled events can be beneficial for them.
Of course, every family’s situation is unique. If you have questions or concerns about creating a parenting agreement that works for everyone involved, it may be a good idea to discuss your concerns with a family law attorney. An attorney can help you decide how best to navigate the difficult holiday season and help your children enjoy their time with both sides of the family.