Avoiding Tension During the Holidays.
Molly Rumbelow, December 8, 2018
‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.’
For most of us, this can probably sum up the festive period well.
Seeing the sparkle in children’s’ eyes is truly a magical moment. But the travelling, expense and family dramas can put a dent in even the most festive of moments. Add into that the complication of separation and co-parenting and it’s easy to see why tensions can rise around the festive season.
While we can’t make sure your Christmas dinner isn’t a disaster, we do have some ways to help you to navigate what can be a time full of tension triggers.
First, let’s talk about where you’re going to be spending Christmas.
For a lot of people, the holidays mean a lot of travel in a short space of time to see relatives across the country. This can be a fun and exciting time for kids and adults alike, and the chance to catch up with family you may have not seen all year.
But it can also cause confusion when it comes to co-parenting, especially when you take into account that plans may change last minute due to the weather or transportation issues.
Our first tip to try to eliminate some of the stress of this situation is to have a conversation about travel plans as far in advance as possible. This way, all parties will know where they stand with co-parenting, and any changes to the schedule can be addressed early.
If your kid(s) are old enough, find out what they want first before trying to make any plans yourselves. It might be the fairest thing to do to switch over during Christmas day, but is this going to be too disruptive for the kid(s)?
Our second tip is to use our powerful shared calendar tool. The shared calendar lets you first know what dates court appointed parenting times are set for, and then lets you schedule other trips and travel around this.
It updates in real time, so you’ll both know exactly what is happening and when – showing where the kids will be and who they’ll be with.
Then, we need to talk money.
Christmas can be a costly time – you’ve got the presents themselves, gift exchanges in your kid(s) classes, new outfits for Holiday parties, Ice Skating, etc. The list can seem endless.
It can very quickly become difficult managing what is being spent on who and where. And once that happens it can be hard to unravel expenses between you and your co-parent – adding another layer of tension to the festive season.
To help you out, first set realistic budgets for each co-parent. These may not be quite the same due to different disposable incomes but coming to an agreement upfront will help to eliminate any surprises.
It is also a good idea to look at coordinating when it comes to present buying. Encourage your child(ren) to create a shared list for you both which you then choose what to buy from. This will not only reduce the risk of doubling up, but it also helps to keep the kid’s idea going of you both still being part of the same team.
Then, use our shared expenses tool to note down and monitor any additional money spent on the kid(s), which is then due to be reimbursed or shared. This lets everyone see exactly what’s happening, so all parties are on the same page and have the same information.
Our top tip here is to keep this updated as close to real time as possible. Always add expenses as soon as they happen instead of letting them build up.
We know that this time of year may not be easy. Whether it’s saying goodbye to old traditions or navigating through new complications – it can take on a toll on you and your family.
Try not to heap too much pressure on yourself to make it perfect.
Yes, it’s important to put your kid(s) enjoyment at the very top of your agenda but, if this is your first Christmas apart, it may be inevitable that there are some moments of sadness for them and for you. And that’s okay. Talk through it together, understand their feelings and allow them and you the time to feel that loss. Trying to hide it through a packed schedule and a mountain of presents is only going to cause burnout – and potentially money worries later on.
Make a solid plan, but also stay realistic and try to be as flexible as possible if the plan goes slightly off course for one reason or another. And use our technology to take as much of the pressure off as possible.
Having shared resources allows you to feel more in control and more cohesive – and gives you precious hours back to go out and make the most of this time of year with your kid(s).