(Inside: These 5 vital steps to coparenting through the holidays will revolutionize your holiday coparenting! Learn to work with your ex during the holidays!)
When you have your first child, the last thing on your mind is typically co-parenting.
You’re thinking about watching your spouse teach your son to ride a bike, or helping your daughter with her math homework.
You’re not thinking about debating over “his weekend” or “my year”.
When I told my ex-husband that I wasn’t coming home, and that we’d be getting a divorce a million thoughts were going through my head, but you bet you can believe coparenting was on my mind then.
Would he “take” the kids from me during all the holidays? Would he have the standard “dad schedule” of every other weekend and Wednesdays? What would happen for Christmas and Thanksgiving and Easter?
How to heck was I supposed to survive coparenting through the holidays?
5 Vital Steps to Coparenting Through the Holidays
See, holidays are my favorite thing. I go the whole nine yards.
I believed in Santa until I was 15 years old. My family has a massive cookie day with roughly 100 people and 600+ cookies…
We do holidays big time.
I was absolutely terrified about coparenting through the holidays.
Luckily, my ex and I are very civil and have figured out ways to make everything work. He gets a lot more visitation than the standard “dad schedule” and we don’t stay so married to the parenting plan that we have no flexibility.
Even still, this time of year is definitely the hardest time to coparent, so I thought I’d share these 5 vital steps to coparenting through the holidays.
#1 Be Prepared to Compromise With Your Coparent
If you and your ex divorced because of a big nasty blow out fight and you completely hate them? You still have to be prepared to compromise with your coparent.
Obviously you’d love to have every holiday with your kids, but that’s not realistic.
Understand that you’re not going to get everything you want, and neither will your ex.
I know it’s hard, but you two liked each other long enough to have kids. Now you don’t have to like your coparent, but you do need to be pleasant and civil with them.
#2 Know What Means the Most to You and Your Coparent
Part of compromising is going to be knowing what means the most to you and your coparent.
Maybe your ex’s family goes to church every Christmas Eve, while your family does a big dinner on Christmas day.
When you’re deciding how you’ll split up the kids during the holidays, make sure you have those things in mind.
In our family, we have cookie day on a Sunday in December. It’s usually the last Sunday before Christmas, but sometimes it’s the week before.
Cookie day is a huuuuge priority for us, so we get it every year.
My ex’s family gets every Easter, as a compromise. (See? It’s about compromising!)
#3 Remember That The KIDS are Really Most Important
This should be the easiest thing, but sometimes it’s the most difficult. I’m just being real here.
We all know that our kids are the most important. But in practice it’s really hard to keep their interests at the paramount.
Because, yes, we realize that our kids need to have holidays with both of their parents.
But really we think our kids need to have holidays with us.
I get it. Trust me. I mean, we don’t want to have any holidays without our babies. In our family this is only compounded by the fact that I have three kids with my husband that stay home, while two have to go see their bio-dad.
Of course I think that all the siblings should stay together.
But really, my ex and I do a fairly decent job at balancing our own wants as parents with what’s really best on most holidays.
I mean, I don’t think either of us love that we trick or treat together most years, but the kids definitely love it. And holidays are about the kids.
#4 Keep Each Other a Part of the Holiday
Like I mentioned, we typically trick or treat together.
You should have seen us this year. A seven-year-old Darth Vader, a 6-year-old witch, a 4-year-old Moana, a 2-year-old cupcake princess, a 2-month-old kitten, a mom and two dads. All walking down the street together as a family.
Because ultimately, that’s what we are. A family.
Our family looks different than most, but it’s our family. We keep each parent a part of the holidays as much as we can.
#5 Think About the “Holidays” Versus THE Holiday
This final step is actually two-fold.
First, we need to remember that the holidays is really a time of year. Basically October to January is considered “the holidays”, and it’s so much more than just Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
The fact is, you’re probably not going to always see your kids on THE holiday. You might need to go to a trunk-or-treat instead of Halloween, or you might have to have Thanksgiving on a Monday like we did one year.
Keep “the holidays” festive so that it isn’t as difficult to miss out on the specific days.
On the flip side, remember that the holidays include a lot more than just the day, so we need to play for that.
Just during December we have Christmas Eve and Christmas, but we also have cookie day, we go to zoolights, we go visit Santa, we drive around and look at Chrismtas lights, the town hall Christmas tree lighting… On and on and on.
Our holiday traditions extend well beyond the 24-hour holidays assigned on our parenting plan.
If you want to keep the kids on your ex’s Saturday so you can go to the tree lighting with your family, let him know well in advance. Maybe he wants to have them on one of your days to go see Santa.
Plan in advance, compromise, and remember the kids are the most important!
I’m not saying you’ll never be sad again when you’re facing a holiday without the kids, but at least with these vital steps to coparenting through the holidays you’ll have a plan.
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