The holidays are often a difficult time for co-parenting families. Sharing custody and figuring out a schedule that is fair and works for everyone can be difficult, turning the holidays into less-than-festive occasions.

However, there are several ways co-parents can plan ahead and reduce potential conflict, so everyone can relax and enjoy the holiday seasons.

Co-Parenting Schedules

Creating a co-parenting plan and schedule is one of the best ways to decrease the chance of conflict over the holidays. A parenting plan lets you dictate how your children’s time will be divided between parents and can include special circumstances like holiday gatherings and vacations.

A solid co-parenting schedule that accounts for special time can help prevent issues over the holidays. It can also help give your children an idea of what their holiday break will look like. This way, everyone knows what to expect and all decisions are in writing, to prevent unexpected conflicts.

Tips For Creating Co-Parenting Schedules

Creating a co-parenting schedule that works for everyone can be challenging. Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning for the holidays:

  • Your children’s school breaks – keep your children’s school vacation days in mind. You may need to make special arrangements to fit you and your co-parent’s work schedules and other obligations
  • Equal time with the kids – there are a few ways you and your co-parent can make sure you each get equal time with your kids including alternating years, splitting special days (i.e. Christmas eve vs. Christmas day) or splitting winter break in half, regardless of where the holidays fall. Both ways give each parent time to travel with their kids and keep special traditions.
  • Gift giving – this is another specification you may want to outline in your parenting plan. You may want to consider questions like: How much are you each going to spend? Do you give or buy gifts together? And how you will handle questions about Santa
  • Making things official – it is important to create an official agreement that is legally binding, to prevent conflicts or challenges down the road.

Co-parenting is difficult and adding in the stress of the holidays doesn’t make things easier. But agreeing on a co-parenting plan and schedule, specific to the holiday season can reduce pressure and conflict for everyone.

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