Even though many people aren't ready for them, the holidays are right around the corner. For parents who are divorced or separated, now is the time to start preparing for the holiday child custody schedule. Some parents have a clear parenting plan or court order that spells out where the child will be and when. Even if this is the case for you, thinking about these tips can help you to make the holiday season less stressful on your child.
Make plans early
Knowing what is going to happen with the holiday schedule is a lot less stressful than having to remain in suspense until the end. If you are concerned about any aspect of the holiday parenting schedule, now is the time to work though the issues. This will give you time for negotiations, and it also gives you time to seek the assistance of the court if you and your child's other parent can't come to an agreement about what is going to happen.
Include both parents
Children often have special activities during the holiday season. If possible, try to include both parents in these events. For example, inviting your ex to the school play or holiday concert would probably make your child very happy. With events that are at school or church, there is a fairly good chance that you wouldn't have to deal with your ex very much so you shouldn't let your unwillingness to be around your ex stop your child from having both parents in attendance. Of course, there are some cases in which that just wouldn't work. In those cases, make sure the child understands who is going to be at what event.
Make transitions easy
The times when the child is going from one parent to another is something that can be stressful for the child. Even if you and your ex don't get along or have issues that need to be addressed, such as child support payments, you can still make these transitions easy for your child. You and your ex can address any issues when your child isn't right there to worry about the matters being addressed.
Most children want to speak to both parents on special days. Even if your child doesn't normally communicate with the other parent when he or she is with you, it is usually a good idea to encourage the child to call or communicate with the other parent on the special day. Remember to keep the encouragement peaceful and give your child a measure of privacy to make the call.
Even though it might be an inconvenience, you should try to remain flexible during the holiday season. A family gathering might last a bit longer than expected or a school event might go over the projected time. There might be changes in transportation plans because of schedule adjustments. These changes could mean that there need to be slight deviations from the child custody agreement terms. Don't turn the change of plans into a fight with your ex. Instead, try to remember that the goal is to make the holiday season fun for your child so that he or she will have fond memories.