By Christine Fitzgerald
The wreaths are up, carols are playing in stores, and decorations are coming down from the attic—the holiday season is here. Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukah are quickly approaching and winter break is right around the corner.
If you haven’t already agreed to a holiday schedule with your co-parent or are working on the details of a temporary schedule to get your family through the remainder of the year, now is the time to start or finalize them to ensure that plans are in place. By amicably addressing the holidays now, you have the opportunity to plan appropriately for your children to make the holidays fun and stress-free for them.
Although creating a holiday schedule can appear daunting, it can be friendly and smooth if you focus more on your children than on disagreements with your co-parent. To make the most of your holidays with your holiday parenting plan, here are some Do’s and Don’ts to follow:
- Do start with a list of the holidays that you, your co-parent and/or your children celebrate and would likely alternate. Then, if your co-parent celebrates Hanukah and you celebrate Christmas, include that on the list of holidays that do not need to be alternated.
- Don’t forget to check your children’s school calendar. There may be no reason to have an argument over a holiday that your children do not even have off school for.
- Do consider offering your co-parent a holiday every year that has specific importance to them if it does not have importance for you. For example, if one parent has off of work on Martin Luther King Day and typically has planned an educational event with the children, consider letting that parent have Martin Luther King Day every year.
- Don’t forget to consider how you and your family have previously celebrated the holidays. If you and your family always traveled over winter break, you may not want to address Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and winter break as separate holidays to allow for you to travel with your children on alternate years.
- Do think about location. If both parents have families that reside far away, schedule holidays in larger blocks of time so that each parent can travel during his or her holiday to see their families.
- Don’t forget about logistics. Occasionally, parents that remain in close proximity to each other split the holiday in two, with one parent having time with the children in the morning and the other in the afternoon. If the holiday is a heavily traveled day, build realistic time exchanges into your schedule.
- Do feel welcome to invite your co-parent if you are on good terms and your children are old enough to understand that you and your co-parent are not reconciling.
- Do wait to tell the children about your holiday or vacation plans until you have confirmed the details and schedule with the other parent.
- Do enjoy your holiday with your children!
We at Seiden Family Law wish everyone a happy, healthy and peaceful holiday season!