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Co-parenting through the holiday season

Co-parenting means compromise, and that is never more apparent than during the holidays.

The season is packed with family, presents and days off school. They also contain lots of potential for arguments, schedule conflicts and general frustration. Here are a few tips for getting through the holiday season as a co-parent without losing your mind:

Plan ahead

This is perhaps the most important thing to consider. Make a plan that you and your ex can agree to, and stick to that plan. If you plan to share custody throughout the holidays, keep to the schedule you agree on. It can be tempting to alter the schedule for things like relatives coming from out of town or surprise visits but respect your ex.

Don’t ask for more time with your kids, and don’t let visits to relatives go long.

Coordinate on gifts and activities

Don’t double-dip when it comes to presents. It can be easy to get into a “presents war” with the other parent, but avoid it at all costs. Plan a strategy together that you both can agree with Narrow down gifts to a couple bigger presents and then split them. Or alternate years for who gets to handle most of the presents. Don’t give the appearance of one parent being more generous than the other.

The same goes for activities. If you have family traditions, consider splitting them between yourself and your ex so that you both get to share them with your kids. Maybe one of you takes them sledding while the other goes to see Santa Claus. Split up activities so that your kids still get to experience family traditions but both of you get to, as well.

Don’t relax parenting rules

Around the holidays, it can be hard to stick to parent schedules. Kids may work extra hard to stay up late or eat candy canes for dinner. Talk to your ex before the season to determine how lenient you want to be with regards to curfews, diets and things like chores.

If you both agree to a certain level of leniency, that’s fine. However, if one of you feels strongly about maintaining a routine, make sure both parents will follow it. Don’t make one parent be the rule-enforcer throughout the holidays.

Don’t sweat it

The holidays can be stressful for all parents. The combination of financial strain, no school and relatives means that it can get hairy. Don’t worry if you aren’t as prepared as you wanted to be for the holiday season. Focus on spending quality time with your family, and don’t obsess over being perfect.

Custody questions around the holidays are perfectly normal.A skilled family law attorney can help you form a plan that makes sense for everyone.

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