During the holidays, I often receive phone calls from clients requesting sessions to help them navigate the Holiday season. From now until New Years, I will be tackling different dilemmas two household families face during the holidays. Shoot me an email if you would like advice on a specific topic.
Splitting time during the holidays can be especially difficult on parents and kids.
If the relationship between the parents is cordial and co-parenting has been successful, I recommend inviting the other Parent out to coffee and let them know you would like to talk about the up coming holiday season. If the relationship is strained or hostile, call your family mediator and schedule a session. It will provide you with peace of mind and be the best gift to you can give your family.
Before the meeting, write down all holiday activities, tradition, and/or family function that you know of.
This includes more than just Thanksgiving day and Christmas day. For example, it can also include the children’s Christmas pageant, holiday parties at Grandma’s house, and/or an annual trip to the Nutcracker. Some events may be traditions that your children expect, like hanging ornaments on the tree. However you may also be considering adding new traditions like a day spent at the mountains sledding.
After you have your list, spend some time organizing it.
Place a star on the few things that are very important to you. Make a note of events that have a flexible date. You may want to continue the annual zoo lights tradition, however you recognize that the date you go can be flexible. Also, I recommend parents spending sometime vetting their expectations for events. When you think of the Christmas Pageant, you may be looking forward to taking your toy soldier out for hot chocolate after the show. If that’s your vision of the event, it’s important to frame that, so you and your co-parent can have an honest discussion.
Before you meet with your co-parent let them know you’re putting together a list of holiday activities and ask him/her if they will do the same.
On the day of the meeting bring a calendar and begin talking with your co-parent about holiday events. Ask them what traditions and events are really important to him/her.
Be prepared to COMPROMISE.
It may be really important to your co-parent that the kids attend a Christmas Eve party at their Aunt and Uncle’s house. While you will miss your children on Christmas Eve, If waking up with the children on Christmas morning is really important to you, then compromise.
Have a solution for handling disagreements.
There are a lot of ways to handle disagreements. One easy way is to ‘parking lot’ all items that you disagree about. For instance if you both want the kids on Thanksgiving day and are having a hard time compromising put that issue in the Parking Lot and move on to the next. After you have found all areas of agreement, you will have a list of parking lot items. Flip a coin and agree to a ‘holiday draft.’ Whoever wins the coin flip chooses the one item in the parking lot list. The other parent chooses the next two items, and from there you alternate one to one until all the items have been ‘drafted.’