Christmas is a busy time for all families. With demands for our time at an all-time high during the Christmas period, it is vital that your parenting arrangements be agreed upon as early as possible so the whole family can enjoy the festive period.
Co-parenting with a separated spouse is often challenging. However, there are a number of things you should consider to minimise stress and conflict at this time of year:
- If you have a parenting order or a parenting plan, now is the time to review that document to ensure you know what that order provides for the holiday period and what your obligations are.
- If there are any uncertainties about the arrangements, enter into mature and respectful communication with the other parent as soon as possible. Consider whether it will be better to make and confirm important arrangements in writing and, if so, use plain and courteous language.
- Have a discussion with your children about the arrangements for Christmas so that they are aware of the logistical aspects of spending time in each household, particularly if there is a changeover on Christmas Day. This may help you to manage tired and grumpy children more effectively during this period.
- While Christmas is full of invitations from friends and family to attend events throughout the Christmas period, consider whether last minute changes to the parenting arrangements to accommodate social functions is necessary. It may be easier for you in the long term to decline those invitations rather than to disrupt the parenting arrangements that are in place.
- Encourage your children to communicate with the other parent during the time that you have them over the Christmas period. You may also consider whether it is appropriate to assist your children to make or purchase a gift or card for the other parent, step-parent and step-siblings. The respect demonstrated by such acts will assist in your co-parenting relationship for the future and teach your children positive lessons about relationships.
- Demonstrate mature and courteous communication to the other parent at all times to assist you in creating a stress-free holiday period for your children. Your children will be aware of any tension or strain in your relationship with the other parent, which may impact their enjoyment of the holiday period with you.
- Finally, if you will be spending Christmas without your children, talk to your family and friends and make arrangements to stay busy during the festive period.