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How to survive the holidays with joint custody

Getting through the holidays with kids can be a big challenge as it is, but when you're sharing custody, things get a little trickier. It's lonely to spend a holiday on your own, but your child deserves the opportunity to create meaningful memories with your ex as well.

What can parents do to make the holidays more enjoyable while co-parenting with an ex? Follow the tips below and create a plan to get prepared for the upcoming holiday season.

Be fair

When setting the custody agreement, make arrangements that allow each parent equal opportunity to enjoy the holidays with the kids. Some parents choose to split up the day, with one parent getting the kids in the morning and the other getting them in the afternoon. Others make arrangements to have the kids on alternate days. Anything can work as long as both parents feel the agreement is fair.

Be reasonable

On the other hand, certain situations may require a change in the plans. For instance, if your ex-mother-in-law is battling cancer, it may be best to let the kids spend the holiday with them even if it's your year. You can make it up in other ways. While you shouldn't have to give in all of the time, being flexible in extenuating circumstances is important for getting along. You don't want to build up resentment.

Plan ahead

It's hard to make last-minute arrangements when you're sharing custody. Think about what you want to do and discuss this with your co-parent. If you want to take a trip out of town, for instance, you may need the other parent to be more flexible with custody days so that you can get the best deal on airfare. Some custody arrangements need to have changes approved by the court, so you'll need the time to deal with that.

Make plans for yourself

Being alone on the holidays can be depressing, especially if you're thinking about the kids spending time with your ex. Think about what you're going to do during the holidays when you don't have custody. You could spend time with your own family, settle in with a good book, or plan a trip with your friends. Having a plan reduces the chances that you'll be caught off-guard and feeling depressed.

Sharing custody over the holidays is difficult, but thousands of parents make it work each year. The most important thing is to be flexible and fair, constantly thinking about what's best for the kids.

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