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Tips for Your First Holiday Season as a Co-Parent

Ideas to help you navigate your first holiday season with joint custody.

Transitioning into life as a co-parent comes with unique challenges. The holiday season is just one of many things that parents in joint custody relationships must learn how to navigate. Whether you agreed to alternate holidays, split them in half, or take designated holidays each year, this is an adjustment for both you and your kids.  

Having a plan can help ease emotions and tensions 

If this is your first holiday season after a divorce or separation, a lot of things are already changing for you and your children. Having a plan can help provide stability and consistency for all family members. Here are some tips to help you get started: 
Traditions. You and your co-parent should think about any holiday traditions you had together previously. Will either of you continue them? If so, how will these traditions differ now that you are in a co-parenting relationship? Do your children believe in Santa Claus? If they do, will Santa visit one parent’s household, or both? You should also think about any new traditions you want to start, and how to introduce them to your kids in a positive way.  
Gifts. Co-parents should discuss any major gifts with each other. This is particularly important for parents who don’t want the holidays to become excessive. It’s beneficial to talk about the number of gifts allowed, a spending range, and any items that may be off-limits for your children.  
Father and son decorating for the holidays

Involvement. If you and your co-parent are alternating holidays or taking designated holidays each year, allowing the other parent to be involved in some way can be beneficial to your kids. Letting your children communicate or share with your co-parent (i.e. calling, messaging, or sending photos/videos) might make the holidays a little brighter for them. You and your co-parent should discuss involvement beforehand, and then set guidelines to prevent potential conflict on the holiday itself. It’s also important to account for possible involvement from other family members as well, such as siblings and grandparents.  
Communication. Having good communication with your co-parent is key. TalkingParents offers several services that can help you and your co-parent discuss and coordinate the holiday season. The Info Library is a great tool that co-parents can use to collaborate. 
Father and daughter video calling

Don’t forget to take care of yourself 

Your first holiday season as a co-parent is likely going to be hard. Prioritizing self-care is important for both you and your children. Taking good care of yourself is crucial to taking good care of your kids.  
If communicating with your co-parent is taking a toll on you, consider using a co-parenting app. TalkingParents offers Accountable Calling and Easy & Secure Messaging to help co-parents communicate on the record and with ease. 

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