Strategies for Successful Co-Parenting During the Holidays


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The holidays can be stressful times, but for children of divorced parents, the holidays can be even worse. When my ex-husband and I split up, one of the first things that entered my mind was how we were going to deal with spending an equal amount of time with our children. I stressed over how we could make this work in the most normal, seamless way possible. Then, disaster hit.

Our time was consumed with endless fighting and bickering over which parent deserved more time with the kids, and which one of us was more stable. Oh, the irony!

One day, I noticed that my kids, who were typically happy kids, were tense every time they had to visit their dad. I decided to sit down and have a talk with them and as it turns out, they were worried about hurting my feelings if they had fun when they spent time with him and vice versa. Then it hit me…while we were selfishly fighting over who deserved what, the kids were the ones suffering.

This is when we chose to sit down and decide how we were going to handle visitation and the holidays, and I have to say, our methods are rather unorthodox, but they work. We’re both self-employed, so our schedules are unpredictable. Whereas most visitation arrangements grant the parents alternating holidays, we decided that we weren’t willing to give up any holiday, so each year we develop a plan to co-parent, based on our schedules.

Here are 5 tips that we employed to successfully navigate the holiday season in a stress free manner for everyone involved.

  1. Don’t bring the kids into the drama. Your baggage belongs to you and your ex, not your kids. Saying hurtful things about the other parent is disrespectful, and as the adult in the situation, it is your responsibility to keep those opinions to yourselves. Show the kids you are excited that they are spending the holidays with the both of you, and that there are no hard feelings.
  2. Plan early. Planning ahead of time helps avoid unnecessary arguments and “ you should’ve known” scenarios. If the two of you are on the same page, you are not only creating a seamless holiday celebration, but you are helping your kids deal with this transition by showing them that it can be done without arguments, especially since kids tend to think parental bickering is their fault.
  3. Be flexible in considering alternate arrangements. My ex and I are both self-employed, so our schedules are unpredictable, and things may arise at the last minute, including work responsibilities and surprise visits from out of town relatives. The more willing to be flexible you both are, the better the results.
  4. Consider splitting the holidays. This is probably the best strategy we’ve ever used! During Thanksgiving, one of us has our meal at noon, and the other in the evening. During Christmas, we alternate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, depending on our schedules and family plans. New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day depend on which week/weekend the holiday falls on. Since the streets can be a bit wild, we try to stay indoors and celebrate there, so whichever parent they are staying with that week, gets New Year’s Eve.
  5. Holidays are for kids. For the last 5 years, these methods have worked beautifully, and our kids are happy and actually enjoy the holidays. Regardless of what your go-to method is, the important thing to remember is that the kids come first and putting your differences aside with your ex will help you co-parent more effectively.

What are some methods that have worked for you in the past?

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Jacqueline Gonzalez
Jacqueline was born and raised in Corpus Christi and graduated from Incarnate Word Academy High School and TAMUCC with a Bachelor of Liberal Arts in English. She works as a Freelance Writer and as an Instructional Consultant for the Stone Writing Center at Del Mar College. Jacqueline is also a Contributing Writer for The Bend and Inspire Coastal Bend magazines. She has a 17-year-old son, Josef, and a 13-year-old daughter, Isabella, who keep her schedule busy, but her heart full. She is also married to her best friend and soulmate, Marco. Jacqueline also has three cats: Mac, Maxie, and Loki. Jacqueline loves the chaotic nature of a busy schedule, but when she gets a bit of downtime, you can find her enjoying adventures downtown, backyard barbecues with her family, or reading a James Patterson, Kate White, or Steven King thriller. She loves 80s and 90s music, but all the time spent with her daughter has made her a huge BTS fan. Jacqueline and recently joined as a Contributor for the Corpus Christi Mom’s Blog and is excited to see what this new venture brings!