holiday custody children child

Plenty can happen to make the holiday season stressful. Simply knowing they’re just around the corner is bad enough; then there’s dealing with shopping, meal preparations and family obligations. The last thing you want is to fight with your former spouse about how much time each of you will get to spend with your son or daughter.

Every good parent wants to spend every holiday and special occasion with their children. Depending on a family’s custody arrangements and personal circumstances, though, doing so may not be possible. In almost all cases, compromise is essential.

To give you the best chance at a stress-free holiday season, we’ve compiled three key components for dealing with custody during the holidays.

Make a Schedule and Stick to it

Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s, having a set schedule is the foundation for a strong, healthy custody arrangement.

Holidays should always be split equally between each parent. The first step may be to divide holidays based on the current custody arrangements. Once you know which holidays fall during a specific parent’s schedule, it becomes easier to decide how to divide the holidays accordingly.

If both parents wish to spend certain holidays with the child, consider sharing the holiday, wherein one parent has the child in the morning and the other in the evening. You may also consider alternating years, which can best help relieve a child’s stress level.

Whatever’s agreed upon, a clear schedule mitigates confusion, anger and fighting among parents and provides security and a more positive experience for the child.

Don’t fight the change; Embrace it.

No matter what schedule you agree upon, sharing custody will never be easy if you continue to try and recreate the past. To fully appreciate the future, you must move forward, not backward.

First and foremost, acknowledge that things will be different in years to come and embrace these changes by remaining flexible when it comes to creating new traditions with your child.

Communicate

The ultimate key to maintaining a strong relationship with your former spouse and children during the holidays is, and always will be, communication.

Things change over time. Emergencies happen, work issues come up, children’s moods change. No matter the case, communicating with your spouse and child when things do change will reduce the amount of stress and anger that may be generated by sudden, unexpected deviations from the agreed upon schedules.

What if you aren’t on speaking terms with your former spouse? There are apps that can be used to share schedules, send photos, and setup a social network for family and friends. This also helps guarantee all changes are in writing so that no one can make excuses for not following through with their commitments.


The holidays are meant to be fun. If you follow these key steps, take care of your own physical and mental health, and intentionally spend time with other friends and family, you should have no trouble giving thanks for your many blessings this holiday season.

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