5 Tips to Help You Co-Parent This Holiday Season

5 Tips to Help You Co-Parent This Holiday Season

Christmastime seems to start earlier and earlier, with twinkle lights and toy catalogues and Hallmark movies appearing precisely at the stroke of midnight on October 31st. But now that Santa has appeared at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the turkey’s been eaten and the pie plates have been cleared, it’s officially Christmastime.

Of course, Christmas can feel different if you are newly a co-parent. If you’re separated, divorced, or simply not used to sharing your children (not to mention them being in two different locations), here are five tips to help you co-parent this holiday season:

  • Talk with your co-parent: It’s not easy to co-parent with someone you used to make beautiful holiday memories with, but for the sake of the kids’ Christmas, involve your co-parent in your plans. Remember this is probably not easy for them either.  From figuring out the logistics of the parenting arrangements beforehand (when they’ll transfer houses between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, or who has them over the week off from school), to who’s getting what gift (especially if Santa’s involved!), it’s best to collaborate with your co-parent. Plus, it’s the holiday season— if you can, try to forgive each other over a cup of tea or a glass of wine. We are not suggesting a Hallmark movie moment here, but rather that civility around Christmastime will go a long way towards making this a wonderful holiday for the kids.
  • Decide which memories to recreate: Whether it’s picking out a Christmas tree, a couple of visits to meet Santa Claus, or buying a second of that must have decoration, some memories from Christmases past can be recreated. Not each one, of course; that’s impossible and can also send mixed messages to the kids.  But, if there are a few that are so special to your family, see if you can find ways to do them with your co-parent. It begins with a conversation with your co-parent.
  • Make new holiday traditions: Does one child dislike the stocking he or she has always had? Here’s their chance to do it over! Does another wonder why they can’t have that Christmas inflatable on the lawn? Maybe they can! Reassure them that Santa knows the addressees of both houses! From baking a different kind of Christmas cookie to streaming a new holiday movie, this is the opportunity to really start fresh and make new Christmas traditions, as your family moves forward.
  • Allow the kids time to grieve: Of course, with old memories and new traditions comes the realization that this Christmas is different, and the sadness that Mom and Dad aren’t together or that one parent isn’t opening presents under the tree with them.  This can be even tougher with younger kids, and harder as the big day approaches. There may well be tears when your co-parent isn’t there to help read aloud from Twas the Night Before Christmas, and that’s okay. Along with the joy of this Christmas, children need the time and space to grieve the Christmases they used to know.
  • Be good to yourself: Christmas doesn’t have to be perfect. Kids don’t need every gift, every outing, every moment to know that they’re loved at Christmastime after a divorce. Kids are resilient (a cliché, but a true cliché) and will look back on Christmastime and remember the magical moments, the love— and that you tried. So whether you are with your kids or not on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, forgive yourself when things don’t go as planned, make plans for yourself so you enjoy some Christmastime, and take a deep breathe. It’s the holidays, and it will be okay.

Divorce is a lot, and Christmas is a lot— but a fresh start and a new year is around the corner. We wish you a safe, healthy, happy— and magical— Christmastime.