The holiday season is right around the corner, eagerly anticipated by many adults and especially children. However, it can be a time of dread for former spouses and partners when deciding on a holiday parenting schedule.
For these Washington parents, a carefully thought out plan is essential to their children’s happiness as well as their own mental well-being during what can be a stressful time. The good news is that putting your kids first can bring welcome relief to you as well.
Setting a reasonable holiday schedule
Parents have many things to consider when planning for the holidays, such as their kids’ ages, school breaks, religious beliefs and family traditions. Co-parents typically have two options when managing holiday schedules for their kids:
- Alternating years: One parent may keep the children for an entire winter break in even-numbered years and the other in odd-numbered years. They may flip custody between Thanksgiving and Christmas or Hannukah. This seems to work best when parents don’t have strong ties to any holidays.
- Equal time: In this scenario, parents may split custody during winter break, or one takes Christmas Eve while the other takes Christmas Day. That means both parents can spend quality time with their kids on at least part of the holiday.
In some cases, co-parents still on good terms may decide to spend the holidays together, or at least most of the time, under the same roof with extended family members.
Additional healthy co-parenting tips
Remember, the season is supposed to be a time of joy, filled with building happy family memories. You can achieve that by remembering these tips:
- Put your kids’ needs first, and don’t focus on past areas of disagreement or bitterness.
- Put a plan in place well ahead of the holidays and share it with your kids, so they know what to expect.
- Discuss and coordinate gifts and include spending limits, so it doesn’t become a competition for the coolest parent.
- Always be flexible, as even the best-laid plans will likely need to change, to assure the smoothest path possible.
- Don’t forget to take care of yourself, as ignoring your own needs can increase conflict.
Major holidays are typically included in Washington parenting plans, so if you can’t work out a reasonable schedule with your co-parent, it’s advisable to follow the court order. However, as long as both of you agree to be flexible, that cooperation can ensure a joyful season for your kids and you as well.