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Co-Parenting During the Holidays: Making it Work

saving money for Christmas Middle Class Dad Dad, Mom and child around a Christmas tree

The holiday season is a time filled with warmth, joy, and cherished traditions. It’s a time when families come together to celebrate and create lasting memories. For co-parents, however, navigating the holidays can present unique challenges. Balancing time with your children and ensuring a harmonious experience can be both emotionally and logistically demanding. But fear not, because in this article, we’ll provide you with valuable insights and tips to make co-parenting during the holidays a smooth and memorable experience. And should you find yourself in need of guidance, remember that a child custody lawyer can be an invaluable resource.

The Gift of Effective Communication

The foundation of successful co-parenting during the holidays, or any time of the year, is effective communication. It’s crucial to discuss and plan ahead to avoid any last-minute conflicts or disappointments. Sit down with your co-parent well in advance to create a holiday schedule that works for both parties and, most importantly, your children.

Here are some communication tips to ensure your holiday plans align smoothly:

  • Flexibility is Key: Be open to compromises and flexible with the schedule. Remember that it’s about creating a positive experience for your children. Flexibility can lead to more enjoyable holidays for everyone involved.
  • Put It in Writing: Once you’ve agreed on the holiday schedule, put it in writing. Having a clear, written plan can help avoid misunderstandings later on and provide a reference point if needed.
  • Respect Traditions: Be respectful of each other’s holiday traditions and customs. Your children will appreciate the effort to maintain a sense of normalcy and continuity during the holiday season.
  • Stay Positive: Keep the focus on your children’s well-being. Positivity and cooperation can go a long way in making the holidays special for them. By maintaining a positive attitude, you set a constructive tone for your co-parenting relationship.

Creating Meaningful Memories

Holidays are all about making cherished memories, and co-parents can certainly contribute to this. Even if you’re not spending every moment of the holiday season together, you can still create meaningful experiences for your children:

  • Celebrate Together: If possible, consider celebrating certain holiday traditions as a family, even if you’re no longer together. This can help maintain a sense of unity and continuity for your children.
  • Coordinate Gifts: Coordinate gift-giving to avoid duplications and ensure your children receive what they truly want or need. It’s a thoughtful way to show your children that you’re working together to make their holidays special.
  • Encourage Communication: Encourage your children to share their experiences with their other parent. This can help them feel more connected and less torn between two homes. Open communication reinforces the idea that both parents are part of their holiday celebrations.
  • Include Extended Family: If appropriate, involve extended family members so that your children can still enjoy the company of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins during the holidays. These extended family connections can contribute to a sense of belonging.

When It Doesn’t Work: Finding Solutions

In some cases, despite your best efforts, conflicts may arise in co-parenting during the holidays. Here are some innovative solutions to consider:

  • Professional Mediation: Consider seeking the help of a professional mediator who specializes in co-parenting disputes. They can facilitate discussions and provide neutral guidance, helping you find mutually acceptable solutions.
  • Online Celebrations: If physical presence isn’t possible, explore online celebration options where you can engage in holiday activities together virtually. Virtual celebrations can bridge the gap when in-person gatherings aren’t feasible.
  • Alternate Years: An alternate-year arrangement can provide stability and predictability. One parent has the children during the holidays this year, and the other parent has them next year. This approach ensures that both parents have the opportunity to create special holiday memories.
  • Community Resources: Investigate local community resources and events that can provide additional holiday experiences for your children. Many communities offer holiday-themed activities and programs that can supplement your celebrations.
  • Child’s Perspective: If your children are old enough, involve them in the decision-making process. Their input can be valuable in finding solutions that work for everyone. Listening to their preferences and concerns can help create a sense of ownership in the decision-making process.

Seeking Professional Guidance

The expertise of a child custody lawyer can be invaluable during the stressful holiday season. A child custody lawyer specializes in family law and can provide legal guidance and support in matters related to custody, visitation, and holiday scheduling.

If you find yourselves facing disagreements or disputes that cannot be resolved amicably, don’t hesitate to consult with a child custody lawyer. They can help mediate conflicts, provide legal advice, and ensure that your children’s best interests are protected.

Maintaining Self-Care

Amid the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s essential not to forget about self-care. Co-parenting can be emotionally taxing, especially during the holidays. Take time for yourself to recharge, relax, and destress. When you’re at your best, you can provide the support and love your children need during this special time of the year.

Here are some self-care tips for co-parents during the holidays:

  • Set Boundaries: Establish boundaries to prevent burnout. Avoid overcommitting to social gatherings or holiday events. Prioritize activities that align with your well-being.
  • Lean on Your Support System: Reach out to friends and family for emotional support and assistance when needed. Don’t hesitate to seek help when you require it; you don’t have to navigate the challenges of co-parenting alone.
  • Practice Gratitude: Focus on the positive aspects of co-parenting and the joy your children bring to your life. Gratitude can help you maintain a positive mindset and reduce stress.
  • Seek Professional Help: If the emotional toll becomes overwhelming, consider talking to a therapist or counselor for guidance. Professional help can provide valuable strategies for managing stress and emotions effectively.


Co-parenting during the holidays may have its challenges, but with effective communication, a focus on crafting memorable moments, and the support of a child custody lawyer when necessary, you can make it work. Remember that your children are at the heart of it all, and their happiness and well-being are the most precious gifts you can give them during this season and throughout the year. Embrace the spirit of cooperation, and may your holiday season be filled with innovative connections, love, warmth, and cherished moments. With the right approach, co-parenting can become a source of strength and joy for both you and your children during this festive time.

Pat Baker is the mother of a blended family, an active co-parent, and a writer for child custody lawyers in the Philadelphia area.

Jeff Campbell