How Can I Best Co-Parent for Easter?
Scheduling holidays can be difficult for co-parents. Holidays come just once a year, and both parents want to spend time with their children, as do grandparents and extended family members. The child custody agreement in your divorce will often dictate who gets the children for which holiday and in which year. These guidelines may not always work or be realistic for some families.
The good news is that there are ways to lessen the stress and frustration of scheduling holidays. The key is that both parents need to be mature and understanding enough to ensure they can make the following recommendations work for the children.
Commit to Fair Holiday Scheduling
Even if your custody agreement recommends a holiday schedule, keep in mind that circumstances could change. If both parties are willing to be flexible and fair, open scheduling can work. Maybe Mom gets Easter this year while Dad gets Thanksgiving, and they share Christmas, for example.
Think Outside the Box
Even if the children are not with one parent on Easter Sunday or another holiday, that does not mean the holiday is lost. Celebrate with your children the day before or the day after. In the week leading up to Easter, enjoy festivities like dyeing eggs and opening Easter baskets. A holiday does not have to be observed on the day specified on the calendar.
Start New Traditions
There is nothing wrong with celebrating old traditions and making new ones if your children are not with you on a specific holiday. Maybe the egg hunt can happen on the Friday before Easter, and the big Easter meal is on Saturday. Some families make a tradition of going on vacation for the Easter holiday or spring break.
Make a Schedule
While co-parents should be flexible enough to accommodate changes, it does help to have a schedule of holidays each year. A schedule allows each parent to get ready for the holiday, whether or not they will have the children. Knowing where they will spend each holiday also helps the child manage their expectations.
Alternate Major Holidays
Some holidays have more weight than others. Make sure the schedule you and your co-parent set allows each parent to have at least some of the major holidays in a year. The following year, the other parent can get the other major holidays.
Also, consider how your family celebrates holidays and the holiday’s significance to your family. For example, some families have a standing Easter party with lots of relatives, food, and fun activities. Other families go to church then celebrate with a quiet lunch afterward. It is not unfair to consider which the child will enjoy more when deciding who gets custody, especially when a holiday may not be as significant to one parent as the other.
Recommendations for holidays in a child custody agreement are just that, recommendations. While a schedule for holidays does help cut down on stress and frustration, know that in the end, whatever works best for the children is what should work for everyone. Children may prefer to be with one parent over the other for a particular holiday. They may want to go on spring break vacation with dad, even though mom is scheduled to have them for Easter. As long as both parents agree, the child’s wishes should always be a primary consideration.
Healthy co-parenting means being able to concede when needed. For example, if you are scheduled to have the children on Easter but your co-parent asks to have them for a good reason, what is the harm in compromising? Being flexible and open-minded will be good for everyone, especially the children, in the long run.
Leave Feelings at Home
Divorces can be contentious, and some co-parents find it challenging to deal with each other, but they should think of their children first and leave their feelings in a closet at home. Most children love holidays and look forward to them. Do not let your feelings about your ex-spouse cloud the children’s happiness and enjoyment of the holiday. It is not fair to them.
Holidays are Not Competitions
The most important thing about holiday custody is spending quality time with your children. Do not feel pressured to overdo your plans, go overboard with gifting, or prove that you are the better parent. Let the children enjoy the day without care or worry.
If you have custody on Easter or another holiday, there is no need to make it perfect or stress about how to celebrate. Children will enjoy whatever time you spend with them. Live in the moment and enjoy the day. Show them love and let them be children. That is all they want anyway.
Enjoy the Day Off
If you do not have the children for Easter or another holiday, do not sit around and fret. Enjoy your time off. Treat yourself, enjoy a movie, visit friends, or attend your family’s celebration. There will always be other holidays. If you want the children next year for Easter, schedule that with your co-parent ahead of time.
The bottom line is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for holiday custody. Following some guidelines can help make holiday custody less stressful for both parents, including the following:
- Make the holiday schedule fair and reasonable to both parents. Update it each year.
- Stick to the schedule to help children maintain some normalcy and consistency.
- Be flexible and accommodating if the schedule needs to change for a good reason.
- Inform children well in advance of where and how they will spend each holiday. If it is not with you, be positive and upbeat about them spending it with your co-parent.
- Keep the children’s wellbeing front and center on holidays and always.
The Marlton Divorce Attorneys at Goldstein & Mignogna, P.A., Advocate for Families and Children
Our experienced Marlton divorce attorneys at Goldstein & Mignogna, P.A., understand the importance of keeping children’s needs front and center when negotiating a divorce and custody agreement. If you are considering divorce, call us at 856-890-9400 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation today. Located in Marlton, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Burlington County, Camden County, and Gloucester County.