It’s time for the Yu Family Law 12 Tips of Christmas!
The 12 tips of Christmas have been carefully designed by Atlanta Family Law Attorney, Emily Yu, to help families who are co-parenting through the holidays navigate the season with ease. These tips are practical, realistic, and helpful no matter if this is your first time experiencing a co-parenting Christmas, or you’re a seasoned professional. While this is an inevitably stressful time during a stressful year, the Yu Family Law 12 Tips of Christmas provides creative and useful ways to take some of the stress out of co-parenting during the holidays.
We’ll be releasing one tip a day from now until Christmas, so don’t forget to check back daily!
– Tip 1 –
If you haven’t figured out your plans for the holidays, today is a great day to sit down and prepare a game plan with your co-parent. Consult your parenting plan, your co-parent, and your attorney if necessary! Trying to figure everything out at the last minute adds unnecessary stress to the holiday. Let’s be honest, there’s been enough unnecessary stress in 2020 to last a lifetime, no need to add any more if you can help it.
Remember that on most standard parenting plans the holiday schedule is different from the normal schedule and takes precedence over it as well. Confirm your parenting schedule with your co-parent and work together to make any holiday adjustments as needed. Get any changes in writing so that you can reference back as often as needed. Don’t forget to consult any school, daycare, or child care holiday schedule changes as you’re planning, since there will likely be closures you’ll need to workaround!
– Tip 2 –
Co-parenting is hard and co-parenting during the holidays can be harder. But, for the sake of your kids, KEEP WORKING AT IT! It’s important to remember that these holiday times are what your kids will remember when they are adults. What kind of holiday memories do you want your children to have?
If you’re co-parenting this Christmas, it’s the perfect time to start a new tradition. It doesn’t have to be a major production. Something as simple as inviting your co-parent to join in on decorating the Christmas tree can help create positive holiday memories that will last your kids a lifetime. The harder you and your co-parent try to work together for holidays, the easier it will get over time.
Bonus: check out Maddie putting the star on her rainbow tree with her Dad. This is one of my favorite co-parenting holiday traditions we share, and I’m so glad that even with two crazy work schedules and a pandemic, we’re still able to make it work to see the smile on her face.
– Tip 3 –
Have you and your co-parent talked about gifts? If you haven’t, go ahead and initiate that conversation so everyone can be on the same page. Can you imagine having to explain why Santa brought the same gift to both houses?!
Working with your co-parent on your children’s gifts doesn’t have to be complicated. Take advantage of things like an Amazon wishlist or sending a few emails. A little effort really does go a long way here. As an added bonus, an Amazon wishlist can be shared with extended family who may be unsure of what to get for your children. This will help cut out any guesswork and your kids will wind up with the gifts that they want.
Remember, there is no award for “best gift giver”. Working with your co-parent to divide and conquer to the best of your abilities can help ensure a smoother holiday.
– Tip 4 –
Christmas is certainly going to be different this year due to COVID, which may bring up disagreements with your co-parent on how to handle the holidays. Some families are choosing to gather as normal, other families are spending the holidays apart, and some of us are still just in denial that somehow Christmas is NEXT WEEK .
Discussing your COVID-Christmas plans with your co-parent ahead of time will take some of the stress out of this weird holiday season. You may disagree with each other’s opinions of the virus, but it’s important to work together with your co-parent to find a compromise that keeps everyone involved as safe and comfortable as possible. This continues to be a tough conversation so remember that we all have different perspectives of COVID, and different levels of comfort in regards to potential exposure. There is no right or wrong answer, but it’s important to go ahead and have the conversation. Most importantly, if you disagree with your co-parent’s holiday plans, don’t do or say anything without talking to your Attorney!
– Tip 5 –
With all the extra stress 2020 has brought, prioritizing self-care is more important than ever this holiday season. Give yourself a mental break and take a little time to practice some form of self-care in the coming days!
Self-care doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. It just has to make your heart happy! Self-care can be as simple as taking a long walk, binging a few episodes of your favorite show, or treating yourself to a cup of coffee that wasn’t made in your home. I personally decided to pick up dance lessons and it has made such a positive impact on my overall mental health. There is something so special about having that one hour a week where my only focus is on enjoying myself!
Practicing some self-care in the next few days will help you feel relaxed and rejuvenated to help you get through the rest of the holiday season which is normally a stressful time without a global pandemic. I simply cannot stress enough that in this season of giving to others, it’s so important to give yourself the gift of self-care.
– Tip 6 –
Sorry not sorry for all the big yelling letters that follow, but today’s tip is a big one.
HELP YOUR CHILDREN WITH A GIFT FOR YOUR CO-PARENT!!!
The complicated emotions of co-parenting might not have your co-parent at the top of your gift list this season, and that’s okay. However, it’s important to remember that your co-parent is likely at the top of your children’s gift lists, right next to you. You and your co-parent are two of the most important people in your children’s lives, so it’s natural for them to want to get you both a gift during this season of giving!
Depending on the ages of your children, they will likely need your help selecting the gift, paying for or creating it, and wrapping it. The gift itself does not have to be expensive or elaborate, as a little effort really does go a long way. Helping your children with a gift for your co-parent shows that you are committed to supporting and cooperating with each other in positive ways and will teach your kids a valuable lesson that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
– Tip 7 –
While COVID has brought a ton of new challenges to the holiday season this year, one thing that it does NOT affect is holiday parenting schedules! Parents are still expected to exchange children with each other according to the terms outlined in their parenting plan and may be held in contempt if they choose not to do so. Remember, co-parents are considered essential and COVID concerns or Shelter-in-Place Orders do NOT serve as a defense to withhold your children. Of course, there are exceptions to this, but an attorney should be consulted before making any decisions. Check out our Co-Parent’s Guide to COVID-19 for more info.
If you haven’t already, it’s WAY past time to refer back to our previous tips and discuss your COVID holiday parenting game plan with your co-parent!
– Tip 8 –
Blended families are often a wonderful thing (Yay more people to love your kids!), but they are not without challenges, especially during the holidays. If your children have a blended family, their step-parents, step-siblings, and extended stepfamily likely play a big role in their lives. It’s important to remember that regardless of your feelings toward the circumstances surrounding your co-parenting relationship, your kids love both sides of their family, and will want to express that during the holidays.
If you don’t do this already, work with your children to give gifts to their stepfamily. Have your kids help you pick out presents, or spend an afternoon together baking treats and crafting handmade gifts. It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Giving step-parents/siblings a gift (even if they do not do it for you) shows your kids that you acknowledge the importance of their relationship with their stepfamily. It also sends a message to your kids that it’s OK to express love and appreciation for their other parent and step family openly without fear of upsetting or you. Spreading some kindness and goodwill toward your co-parent’s family in the name of the Christmas spirit is a small gesture that goes a long way with your kids and is a lesson that will stick with them for many holiday seasons!
– Tip 9 –
If you’re anything like me, that COVID-Christmas stress is in full swing by now! Take a deep breath and remember that this holiday season has been particularly stressful for us all, your co-parent included. Co-parenting during the holidays isn’t easy, and there is no such thing as getting it all right all of the time. It’s worth reminding you to be flexible in the coming days! The more you work with your co-parent, the more likely they will be to work with you, which is a very valuable thing!
While you’re being flexible with everyone else, don’t forget to be flexible with yourself too! It’s so easy to let the chaos of the season get to you all stressed out. Take a breath and roll with the changes as they may occur. And for goodness sake, take a little time this week to pat yourself on the back and reward yourself for making it through this crazy year!
– Tip 10 –
While compromise is often a part of co-parenting, it’s worth noting that boundaries are just as important!
Setting your own boundaries does not just apply to co-parents but to all sorts of relationships in your life. It can be tricky to determine and the boundaries can sometimes shift. But, as you work to set your own boundaries and ask others to respect them, remember that you must also respect others’ boundaries as well.