Co-parenting is a challenge even under the best circumstance. The co-parenting during the holidays adds what feels like a million hurdles to the already complicated process. The good news (or bad, depending on your perspective) is that you are not the first nor will you be the last to navigate the holiday season with an ex-spouse. This situation is experienced by many families across the United States. Those parents have plenty of advice for families going through a separated Christmas for the first time. Read on to learn some top tips about co-parenting during the holidays.

1) Always Put The Kids First

No matter the history that exists between the parents, call a truce for the holidays. Placing children in the middle of an argument is damaging to their mental and emotional state. This holds especially true during the holidays. The best thing to do is try to imagine a child’s reaction to an action or planned event.

Mom’s Christmas Eve party and Dad’s Christmas Ever party one right after the other is going to lead to tired, crabby kids. If your ex-spouse does something annoying, address it later in private. The kids don’t need to see mom and dad yelling at each other as a holiday memory.

2) Check Or Create The Co-Parenting Plan

A co-parenting plan is something that experts suggest divorced parents keep on hand. Essentially, it is a simplified version of the custody agreement, with any additional agreements between exes. The plan is an excellent way to ensure that both spouses, as well as the kids know what the custody plan is.

Double check that you and your ex are truly on the same page by consulting the co-parenting plan. If you want to make any changes, make sure to consult with them before implementing them.

3) Communicate With Your Ex-Spouse

Communicating with an ex-spouse is an unpleasant experience for many divorcees. However, it is a big part of the “put the kids first” mentality. Luckily, the co-parenting plan opens the door for communication. Once the conversation has begun, make sure to mention the gifts that you plan to purchase.

Communication centered around gifts is a rough process, because ultimately it is a money issue. Co-parents need to agree on equal spending for the kids. One parent spending more than the other ultimately leads to conflict and favoritism. Why invite that into your life?

4) Communicate With Your Kids

The other major point of “put kids first” is communicating with the kids in question. While little kids are happy to go along with other people’s pans, older children often have other ideas. Ensure that you are truly listening and that they feel heard.

For example, if there is a debate about where to do Christmas Eve dinner, ask the kids. If they pick your house, cool. If they pick your spouse, act equally as excited and help your ex start planning.

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