As a co-parent who has shared two decades of holidays, here are a few ideas on how to plan ahead when sharing children between mom’s house and dad’s house. These ideas can help keep Christmas at the center of what can be a difficult time of sharing the kids.
Before sharing Christmas, plan to have…
· a Coparent T.E.A.M.M. Meeting
· 2 Cars Awaiting
· 3 Face Times
· 4 Christmas Meals
· 5 Transitions
· 6 Marco Polos
· 7 Cousins Caring
· 8 Grandparents Waiting
· 9 Special Sayings
· 10 Gifts for Aunties
· 11 Freeing Phrases
· 12 Nighttime Notes
Try to remember that more than anything, kids need the emotional freedom to love everyone in their life, no matter how far or close they live and no matter whose side of the family they are on. Try to be as kind and compassionate about the “other family” as possible so your children don’t feel like they must pick a favorite.
If this is your first Christmas after a divorce, it will be difficult. Try not to go through it alone. Reach out to a close friend who may be a few years ahead of you in the experience. Ask for them to be your 3:00 AM friend so you can reach out anytime you need to talk and get some stable support.
Be weary of those friends or family who add “gas” to the fire and can’t help but say hurtful things about your child’s other parent. Sometimes they can’t see objective and they end up making it worse for everyone. Those people would be best at a distance, verbally and emotionally.
Do you know someone who is hurting this season and may need some extra encouragement because they recently divorced? This time of year, it can be a joyous celebration of Jesus’ birth and yet for those who have had a significant loss it can be one of the hardest times to manage. Maybe consider inviting them to have a meal with your family or see a fun movie this season?
I am coming up on my 21st Christmas of co-parenting and every year has been a unique blessing to celebrate the life of Jesus and the beautiful daughter that was the greatest gift I could ever have asked for. This year she will have been married for just 13 days and beginning her new life as a Mrs. What a joy for all of us who love her – she has four parents and six stepsiblings who will all have just witnessed her big day. The goal has always been to allow her to live free between our two homes with one whole and thriving heart… Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!
Jay and Tammy Daughtry, MMFTs are Founders of Co-Parenting International and the “One Heart, Two Homes” Digital Resource. Jay and Tammy are a blended family of four with two son-in-loves and four beautiful grandchildren.