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Tips For Managing Holiday Time

1. Details are important. In order to avoid conflict, the more detailed the holiday schedule needs to be. The details of the parenting plan schedule should address: Who? What? Where? And How? This should be in writing, if not already incorporated into a court order. Making sure the plan is set as far in advance as possible allows for both parents to make plans during their time and further lessens the anxiety on children as they know what to expect.  Also, make sure you review the plan every year so that you are fully informed of what this year’s schedule will look like before making plans. Surprisingly, parents can’t always remember what they agreed to. Again, this is why the details are so important.

2. Listen to your children. Put your children first, not in the middle. Focus on what will make your children happy, not what traditions are important to you. Children generally don’t care about the date of celebration, but rather just the celebration itself. Think about what holiday memories you want to make with your children instead of focusing on what day you will get to enjoy the activities.

3. Make New Traditions. Instead of repeating old traditions, find ways to make new one. The new tradition can be an activity that can happen every year, but doesn’t necessarily have to be associated with a specific date. The holidays are a good time to give back to the community. Parents could start a new tradition that every year they adopt a family for Christmas, help at a food bank, or something as simple as reading the same story every year. Whatever you chose can be something that remains consistent every year, so that you child has a sense of stability.

4. Help your child choose a gift for the other parent. This may be the hardest tip, but it is important to show your child that you respect the other parent. Model thoughtful and gracious behavior for your children. This also means graciously accepting a gift the other parent helped your child pick out for you. In a high conflict case, it can be particularly hard to want to do this, but showing your children that you respect the other parent can have long-lasting positive effects on them.

5. Be flexible. Flexibility regarding visitation and parenting time can allow for a more stress-free holiday. That does not mean you don’t start with a framework of rules, but communicating with the other parent and trying to work together to allow the children to be able to spend meaningful time with both sides of their family is the key. Making it clear to everyone that this year’s plan may not be the way it’s always going to be is also important so no one has recurring expectations.