The holiday season can be an especially stressful time for nontraditional families and blended families. When partners split up and share custody or visitation of their children, this can mean double the holiday celebrations and splitting time between many different homes. Children who grew up with divorced parents are all too familiar with this situation – two Christmases, two Thanksgivings, double the presents, hours and hours of driving back and forth, and living out of a suitcase for weeks at a time. From a parent’s perspective, the holidays can come with many additional sources of stress – more communication with their ex and coparent, bearing the financial burden of buying gifts without assistance, planning drop off and pick up times, and the additional sadness of coping with the fact that you might not have your own child at home on Christmas morning. Here are our tips for reducing the stress of coparenting during the holidays.
Plan Ahead, but Be Flexible
It can be helpful for co-parents to sit down and put together a plan for how they want things to go. This will obviously be easier if you have a good relationship with your ex, but it can still be attempted even if you do not have a good relationship. If you have a custody order that dictates how holidays should be split up, use that as your starting point for making a plan. Planning ahead will help avoid any last-minute disputes over who gets to see the child. But no matter how much you plan ahead, you’ll still have to be flexible. No plan is perfect, and unexpected things can always happen last minute, but clear communication with your ex can reduce stress and manage expectations.