The holidays are a joyous time of year. However, if you share custody of your children, you also understand that this time can be extra stressful and cause friction between you and your children’s other parent.
Like many other events this year, the holiday season will also be marked by COVID-19, which poses a whole other set of challenges for co-parents. While you may feel unprepared for what’s ahead, know that all other parents sharing custody are in the same boat as you are!
Plus, there are still many ways that you can make the time special, stress-free, and safe for your family. Here are some tips for navigating the holidays as a co-parent during the pandemic.
Communicate with Family
While open and frequent communication is always recommended, it’s even more important during the 2020 holiday season. Communicate with your child’s other parent what your expectations, goals, and worries are for the holidays and winter season, and listen to what theirs are, too.
Discuss how you can meet in the middle while ensuring everyone’s safety. If either of you has plans to take the children to a religious community event, such as a church or synagogue, for the holiday, find out what measures are being taken to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
Create New Traditions With Children
This holiday season will be unlike any other year prior. Remember that many children look forward to celebrating this time of year with both sides of the family, so having plans or activities canceled can be disappointing. Start talking about the holidays a few weeks ahead of time so that your family can come up with new plans to celebrate.
While you and your kids may have certain traditions that will be missed, you can use this year as an opportunity to start new traditions that may last for years to come! Here are a few creative ideas that you can use to stay connected during the holidays, despite the challenges of the coronavirus:
- Take turns hosting mini celebrations. Spread out the holiday celebrations by having multiple short, online celebrations; for instance, one side of the family could host a time to sing holiday songs and have dinner, and then the other side could host storytelling and prayer time.
- Send each other cards and card packages. If you’re unable to celebrate in-person with certain members of the family, you can have your children send care packages that include holiday treats, small gifts, and special mementos; you can have each person open these on family Zoom call.
- Work on a shared project. You and your children can start a holiday project that gets mailed to everyone in the family; for instance, you can decorate an ornament and send it to other family members that can add to it, and have them send it to the next house.
Set Ground Rules
Both you and the other parent may have special family traditions that you don’t want to pass up or miss out on. However, if you or your co-parent are concerned about exposure to COVID-19 within your respective households, it’s a good idea to set ground rules for appropriate protocols that everyone will take, such as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended holiday guidelines for social distancing, limited gatherings, and proper face mask-wearing protocols.
For example, you may propose that both households and anyone that either of you may see during holiday celebrations take a COVID-19 test (and receive a negative result) prior to gathering, or anyone who joins the celebrations self-quarantine following the events. Setting ground rules that apply to both households can ensure that the kids have a consistent and healthy holiday season and all members of both families stay safe.
Many couples are able to amicably work with one another to achieve temporary custody arrangements that meet the goals of both parties and work in the best interests of the children. However, some co-parents are not able to overcome the challenges of the holidays, especially when there are specific health guidelines that must be followed.
If you are truly concerned about an issue involving child custody arrangements or visitation orders during this season, now is the time to get it addressed with a local child custody attorney. Our Long Island family legal team is ready to assist your family in crafting a thorough holiday custody plan that encompasses visitation, travel plans, vacations, and more.
We will always put you and your family first. Contact Wisselman, Harounian, & Associates at (516) 406-8500 to speak with our Long Island legal team today.