Co-parenting during the holidays can be challenging at the best of times. But, this year, COVID-19 is likely to present extra concerns to contend with. We previously looked at strategies for co-parenting during the holidays, which you can read about here. Below, we add to your holiday co-parenting tool kit by offering strategies for navigating holiday co-parenting during COVID-19.
Put Your Kids First
The holiday season is typically a time when families travel from near and far to gather together and celebrate. But this season’s holiday gatherings can potentially jeopardize kids’ and families’ health if they’re not done responsibly. During a global pandemic, parents’ first priority is to keep their kids healthy and safe. And, this year, Colorado has issued guidelines around reducing or even avoiding such holiday gatherings to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
As a parent, it is natural to want to limit your children’s exposure to the novel Coronavirus. Should your children participate in a larger family gathering with their co-parent? What about the presence of extended family? Will attendees wear masks and maintain appropriate distance? Where will the gathering take place? A spacious home or a small apartment? Indoor is likely, since we live in Colorado, but is an outdoor venue an option?
These sorts of questions and more can be addressed early among co-parents. Speak up and speak often. When it comes to putting your kids first, make your feelings known.
Holiday Traditions During COVID-19
Typical holiday traditions may need to be modified this year or postponed altogether. Large family game nights, for instance, could be shelved until next year or conducted via FaceTime or Zoom. Neighborhood caroling parties will be out, too, in all likelihood. This year, choosing activities with limited participants will be the key to maintaining health and safety. Holiday co-parenting during COVID-19 may mean that parents will naturally choose to tweak their normal holiday traditions for the health and safety of their kids and families.
In Colorado, we are fortunate to have opportunities for outdoor recreation all around us. And it’s not uncommon for our winter weather to cooperate, making it possible to spend quality time outdoors. This season, consider an outdoor hike, skating on a frozen lake, sledding, or even dining at a restaurant that offers winterized outdoor seating.
Touring around to view Christmas light displays is also another fun option during this time. Walking with your kids or as a small family unit through the neighborhood carrying hot chocolate is a great option for getting outdoors, too. Or, take a drive to neighboring areas to admire their light displays.
Or families may choose to simply stay in this year and enjoy each other’s company. Small movie or game nights are great ideas. Or parents might bake holiday cookies or other treats with their kids. There are many options for tweaking your holiday traditions this season to make them safer for all to enjoy. As a parent, communicating with your co-parent about the plans for holiday celebrations will be critical this year to ensure your children remain healthy and safe.
Communicating With Your Co-Parent
Navigating this year’s unique COVID-19 holiday season will require extra effort at communicating with your co-parent. Make it a point to discuss the logistics around holiday gatherings with your co-parent, expressing your preferences and concerns to facilitate safe gatherings for your children. Not only is it important to do so in your own role as a parent, but such communication may also prevent your kids from being placed in the awkward position of needing to “police” adults’ behaviors when it comes to COVID-19 protocols.
If you experience difficulty in agreeing with your co-parent about holiday plans for your kids, you can consider involving a neutral third party in such discussions. Soliciting input from the children’s pediatrician may be an option, for example. Or if the children have been working with a therapist during the parents’ separation or divorce, the therapist may be able to assist with communication among co-parents around holiday planning on behalf of the children’s interests.
Communicating early and often is the best option for ensuring your children’s happiness and safety this holiday season. Despite the challenges associated with holiday co-parenting during COVID-19, parents can put their kids’ interests and health first, making it a great experience for all. Be sure this holiday week to have those necessary conversations with your co-parent and set your kids and family up for a memorable and safe holiday.
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