With Halloween right around the corner, the frenzied holiday season is quickly approaching. From obligatory extended family gatherings to the added financial pressures associated with gift-giving, many parents admit to feeling more stressed than usual this time of year. However, for parents who share child custody, the holiday season can present some unique challenges.While you may no longer be expected to attend your ex’s family celebrations, your children will and it’s important to talk to and come to a consensus as quickly as possible with your ex about a holiday co-parenting schedule. Following these tips can make the process easier.   

Communicate Early

Many couples who divorce or split up site poor communication as a main contributing factor. However, when it comes to co-parenting, it’s crucial to establish an open channel of communication so you and your ex can discuss anything and everything about your children. This includes where and with whom the kids will spend major holidays.

If this is the first year that you and your ex will spend the holidays apart, it is important to start having conversations today about your holiday plans. Even if you and your ex have established a rotating holiday schedule, it is still a good idea to discuss and confirm your plans. Things come up – maybe this will be the last Thanksgiving gathering at a beloved aunt’s house or your ex’s parents want to spend Christmas in Hawaii. Having those discussions now can prevent miscommunication and conflict down the road.

Communicate Respectfully And Honestly

As you and your ex discuss holiday co-parenting schedules, numerous factors must be taken into consideration including, your children’s ages, the proximity of extended family members and your work schedules. When weighing your options and discussing plans, it’s often best to stick to the facts and to try to take emotion out of the equation. That’s not to say, however, that you should remain silent if you truly have concerns about your child’s safety or well-being.

As long as you are being honest with both yourself and your ex about your motives for voicing concerns or opinions and respectful in how you express those concerns, you and your ex should be able to figure out a resolution and move forward.

Communicate Often

You mentioned that your sister, who lives in another country, is coming for Thanksgiving way back in June. At that time, your ex seemed open to switching holiday schedules, however, nothing formal was agreed to and you haven’t really talked about it since. For co-parents, it’s not only important to communicate about holiday schedules early, but to also do so frequently. It’s never wise to assume that a quick exchange made months ago will be remembered or agreed to when the actual date draws nearer.

It’s fine to bring up holiday schedules and related requests in casual conversation, but these discussions should be followed up with a written request, response and a friendly reminder or two.