The holidays are a stressful time, but for parents who do not always get along, figuring out a schedule between the two of you for your children can bring on additional stress. If you already have a custody agreement or court order, look at the agreement or order to see what the schedule will be.
If any of the following are true then you should contact your ex-spouse sooner rather than later:
- The agreement or order is silent,
- You do not have an agreement or court order, OR
- You would like a schedule that is different from the agreement or order.
Our Tips for an Enjoyable Holiday Season
TIP #1: Start by asking what schedule your former spouse would like to do for the holidays and why. Many clients are surprised to find out that the schedule they thought their ex-spouse would want is not actually what is requested. Do not assume, but ask—politely.
TIP #2: Make sure to let your ex know what schedule you would like and why. For example, if you are seeking an extra few hours so that you can travel with your children to grandma’s house, make sure you let them know the specific details of your plans.
TIP #3: Be respectful of each other and your respective families. Just because you never went to your ex’s grandma’s house when you were together does not mean your ex does not want to do that now. Recognize that this season, many people are looking to reconnect with loved ones, as it has been a very stressful and difficult year for many, especially if you are currently going through a custody battle. Having your children around family during the holiday season can be a great time for them to build strong family memories and bonds.
TIP #4: Remember to keep your kids’ best interest at heart. Do not be selfish and want more time because it’s what you want or how you envision your holiday. If this is their first holiday season dealing with not having their parents together, focus on them and what they want and need. Remember for children, the holidays are magical and it’s your job as parents to preserve that, even if you two do not like each other. Learn to respect one another. Make sure that your children have time with both parents around the holidays. Many parents are able to put aside their differences and spend time together with their children and perhaps even extended family for the purpose of ensuring their children have an enjoyable holiday.
TIP #5: I always remind clients that the holidays are what you make of them. Just because you do not see your child on Christmas morning does not mean that you cannot make the holiday special. You can modify traditions to ensure the spirit of the holiday is preserved. Remember Santa Claus can come to everyone’s house and parents who do not live together can certainly make sure that Santa stops by both houses.
TIP #6: Pinpoint where the two of you have a conflict in the schedule and think outside the box to come up with ideas and recommendations to reach a compromise. Typically, it is not a good idea if you refuse to allow your child(ren) access with a parent for the holidays.
Enjoy your holiday. Relax, laugh, eat, and truly be merry. Come into the New Year with some new goals, perhaps one may be to be more agreeable when it comes to your children’s schedules.
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