With the festive season fast approaching, you may be already thinking about what that looks like for your family. If you have family visiting or are hosting a large event, it can be a busy and stressful time. If you are also navigating shared parenting, whether it is your first year, or even after many years, it can create extra tension and stress. 

Many families struggle with shared parenting over the holidays, coordinating the extra events and changes in routine. There are often more events on at school too, meaning you may need to coordinate if one or both parents attend, and what works best for your family, and most importantly, your kids. 

With some careful planning and communication, you can ensure that the holiday season remains a joyous and stress-free time for both you and your children.

We spoke with the team at Seton Family Lawyers to get their 5 essential tips to help you achieve successful shared parenting during the holidays.

1. Communicate expectations openly and regularly

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Communication is key for a successful holiday period.  Consider using a shared calendar that everyone involved can access. This calendar should include pick-up and drop-off times, dates, locations, and any important events. By openly discussing your plans and expectations, you give all parties involved a chance to be on the same page. Even young children benefit from being kept in the loop; it can help ease transitions and manage their expectations and emotions.

2. Make plans in advance 

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Start planning your holiday activities early, and be sure to share your plans with your child’s other parent or caregiver. The holiday season tends to be jam-packed with Christmas parties, school concerts, and shopping, so having a well-thought-out plan can reduce conflicts and tension. It’s equally important to share these plans with your child, as it helps them understand the upcoming changes and makes transitions smoother. For example, if you need to alter the days your child stays with the other parent, ensure they are aware and prepared.

3. Create new family traditions 

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If this is your first holiday season since separating from your partner, it can be an emotionally challenging time. Creating new family traditions can help bring the magic back into the holidays and provide a sense of continuity for your children. Consider celebrating special occasions on different days, visiting Christmas light displays, crafting gifts for family and friends together, or decorating early to establish meaningful new traditions.

4. Seek professional help 

Seton Family Lawyers (from left Dominique Markwort, Tim Bowring and Michael Seton). Image supplied

To avoid any confusion, miscommunication or conflict, seeking legal assistance and implementing parenting orders can benefit everyone, and not just over the holidays. The law, and the courts, are focussed on facilitating a meaningful relationship between children and both of their parents, and protecting them from harm. When you find the right legal team and family law specialists, they will guide you through the process around parenting orders and get the best outcome for you and your family. 

5. Focus on the kids 

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Above all else, remember that the holidays are about spending quality time with your children. After periods of separation, your children may act out or experience emotional challenges. Be patient and understanding, as it can be difficult for them to be away from one parent. Don’t criticise your child’s other parent, or make them feel like they have to choose. Such actions can add unnecessary stress and strain to your child’s holiday experience. Instead, focus on reconnecting and enjoying the holidays together as a family.

Shared parenting during the holidays can be a rewarding experience with the right approach. By openly communicating, planning ahead, creating new traditions, seeking professional guidance when necessary, and prioritising your children’s well-being, you can ensure that the holiday season is a joyous and memorable time for your family, no matter the circumstances.

If you need help with parenting orders these holidays, consider working with an accredited family law specialist who can help you achieve the best outcome for your family. 

Seton Family Lawyers is an accredited specialist family law firm located in the heart of Erina on the Central Coast. 

This feature was published on Playing in Puddles in partnership with Seton Family Lawyers and LEP Digital.