The holidays can bring challenges for co-parents even in the greatest of times, and adding in COVID-19 restrictions can make it even more complex. Celebrating the holidays this year will just not be easy during the pandemic. To get through these times and keep everyone, especially your kids, safe, keep the following tips in mind.
Cover the Right Territory
Do you want your kids to celebrate with other people or just your immediate family? What about uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandparents? Some families are pretty small, but others are quite big.
How many people are you truly comfortable with in a gathering? Do you think four is the limit, or ten? What about mask-wearing outside or when they are seated at the dinner table?
What is the space where the celebrations will be held like? Is it a small apartment with many people close together, or a bigger spot where wider spacing is possible?
What type of physical contact are you fine with? If kisses or hugs are a no-go when it comes to your kids, you must let this be known.
Go over all of this with your co-parent so you can find your common ground and compromise where necessary. This way, both of you are on the same page from the beginning. Once you find things you both agree on, you can work your way to a more comprehensive agreement from there. Be patient in this conversation, especially if you and your co-parent have very opposing views on the pandemic. Staying respectful and civil is the only way to resolve this issue.
Tweak Traditions as Needed
Get creative and tweak some holiday traditions so you can all be safe. Decorate trees outside of your home, for example. Go for hikes and do some other outdoor activities with your kids. Go around your neighborhood to see all of the lights and decorations; you can even take a drive through your city and town to see festive displays. Bake some new holiday treats with your children to enjoy and for them to hand out to loved ones. Make decorations or ornaments together. If you know you’re likely going to be stuck at home most of the time, start stocking up on crafts and other activity supplies now.
Get Ready to Negotiate
If you’re having a hard time coming to an agreement with your co-parent on how to keep your kids safe during the holiday times, you can ask your children’s nurse or pediatrician to speak with your other parent. A neutral third party here can work wonders because they can set up some guidelines for you that your co-spouse may find more acceptable than what you have proposed. This avoids the impression that you are preventing your kids from seeing their extended family during the holidays for any other reason than their safety.
If you’re at an impasse, you can contact a family law attorney for help. You may be able to use mediation to settle this particular parenting issue. The mediator is an independent third party who helps you reach an agreement that you both are bound to. Typically, mediation over just one issue can proceed relatively quickly, so there is still enough time to try this route.
You can still have a great holiday season with your kids while keeping them safe, but it will require discussions and cooperation with your co-parent before the season hits. By defining holiday plans and guidelines early, you can have a less stressful and safe holiday that everyone will enjoy despite any restrictions the pandemic may have put on your typical plans for this time of year.