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Should Co-parents Spend Holidays Together?

November 24, 2022
Co-Parenting, Parenting Tips
Should Co-parents Spend Holidays Together?

Custody schedules for the holidays typically get ironed out in the divorce agreement. Conventionally, co-parents consider holiday set-ups such as:

  • Alternating years–Example: Mom’s place for Christmas Eve and Christmas this year but Dad’s place the following year.
  • Alternating holidays– Example: Dad gets Thanksgiving Day; Mom can have Christmas Eve; Dad can have Christmas Day, etc.
  • Splitting up the day–Example: Lunch at Mom’s for Thanksgiving; dinner at Dad’s.

Perhaps, you have considered a fourth alternative. Maybe your children have even begged for it.

Is it possible? Can you/should you (gulp!) spend the holidays with your ex!?

In short, yes, and for lots of practical reasons we’ll get into below. For it to be successful, there are a few matters to consider and possibly work on before you and your co-parent adopt this idea.

Crazy Enough to Work

It might sound crazy, but co-parents can make this arrangement work, especially after some time has passed and emotions have cooled. According to some experts, that’s just the key–time and healing.

Generally, a year between the end of your divorce and planning holiday get-togethers is recommended. Not only does this time allow you and your ex to unpack emotions, but it does the same for your children.

Spending holidays together after a divorce needs to be balanced delicately for children. First off, you and your ex need the ability to get along cordially. Any fussing can ruin a holiday and add to family stress.

On the flip side, you don’t want to give the appearance that you and your ex could get back together. That gives your kids false hope and delays their grieving process.

Spending a year of holidays and special occasions apart tends to be enough time to let reality sink in and let everyone recover from emotional wounds. Plus, after a year of holidays as a split family, your children are more likely to understand and accept the reality of your divorce. They can better appreciate the special occasions together without unrealistic expectations.

Advantages of Holidays Together

Time and Money

If you and your co-parent are able to remain cordial, spending the holidays together can save time and money. There’s the time spent traveling for pick-ups and drop-offs and the money saved on supplies for separate parties.

Another bonus: you and your co-parent can more easily coordinate on gifts, especially big-ticket items. You’ll be able to surprise your little ones with one big gift from both parents.

In addition, there will be fewer conflicts over time equality. And, you’ll both be freed from the constraints and worries of getting your children to the right place at the right time.

Imagine: no more keeping a watchful eye on the clock as time quickly ticks away and being so preoccupied with the time that you don’t really enjoy your turn with your child.

Not to mention, both of you will always get to see your child on the actual day of the holiday.

Family Bonding

Spending the holidays with your co-parent has the added benefit of giving your children a bit of their old “normal.” Perhaps, you all even get to keep some familiar traditions alive.

Spending holidays together is possibly the least disruptive for a child. They get to celebrate a special day with both of their parents simultaneously: no guilt-ridden or sad children over leaving one parent to be with the next.

You and your children and co-parent can even bond through teamwork during the holidays. All can come together and share the to-do list to prepare for the special event or party.

As long as you and your co-parent can ensure good quality time together, you’ll strengthen the bonds within the family. Extra time together contributes to more valuable memories together. Even you and your ex can build up your relationship faster and improve the actual and perceived unity you’ll need to co-parent together as your kids grow.

Setting a Good Example

There might be no better example of maturity and respect than showing your children how you and their other parent set your differences aside, come together amicably, and put your family high on your priority list.

You’ll teach your children valuable lessons on forgiveness and endurance. Plus, they’ll see that you two are still a united front when it comes to parenting. As a result, they’ll be less likely to try to play the two of you off each other to get their way when they see you’re in close communications with one another. Way less of “But Dad lets me have a midnight snack….”

Give your co-parent a gift during the holidays to accelerate the goodwill within the family. You and your children can shop together. It will bolster your child’s sense of pride and go a long way toward breaking any leftover ice between you and your ex-spouse.

Making Holidays Work for You

Divorced couples can look past their differences, get along politely, and celebrate the holidays together. For this arrangement to work, you and your ex must let some time pass and agree not to argue or bring up old wounds around the kids. One of you must be willing to welcome the other as a special guest into their home.

To promote healing and positive communications, look into using a parenting app for your divorce responsibilities. These will help you cordially do all the things co-parents have to do: communicate and share schedules and expenses without it dissolving into drama.

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