It’s Christmas morning. The children awake before dawn knowing they just missed Santa leaving their home. They peek around the corner to see the pile of presents under the tree. They know mom will be mad if they get up, so they jump back into the warm bed. They try as hard as they can to wait until the smell of pancakes for them, and coffee for mom, wafts into their room. As the sugary sweet smell of Christmas morning entices them into the room, they squeal with glee while tearing into the presents like Tasmanian devils. Three hours later, when they’re tired, full of pancakes and candy from their stockings, and forgetting about having to be nice for Santa’s list, their mom loads them up in the car for the afternoon drop off for Christmas visitation with their father. It’s not the ideal situation, and mom is upset that she’s losing Christmas night with the kids, and Dad is upset because he missed Christmas morning. The possibility of a messy visitation exchange is high. Here’s how to have a fantastic Holiday Exchange:
- Make it a fun event. You don’t have to meet at the police station or a grocery store parking lot. Pick somewhere fun like a park, Christmas tree farm, or even a coffee shop for some hot cocoa!
- Bring someone with you to negate drama. Do not be a Grumpy Cat! You don’t need
your cousin there who’s constantly getting into bar fights to come along because chances are when tension is high, that punches will be thrown. Bring someone who will fizzle any fights, and who has your kids’ best interests in mind. If they get along with your ex, that’s even better!
- Do not bad talk the other parent. You want your children to enjoy the day. How can they enjoy it if you’re telling them that the rest of Christmas will be horrible once they leave your house?
- Do not try to 1up the other parent. It is not a time to buy love. Communicate with your ex. It’s best to figure out how you two can work together to make it the best Christmas for your children. We understand trying to get the perfect present for your children, but do you really want to build resentment from the other parent too? Also, if you don’t communicate about Christmas, what if the children get the same gift twice?
- Do not fight. That’s easy enough. This is not about you. It’s about the children. There is no need for fighting and screaming on Christmas Day. To do so in front of the children is selfish. Santa wouldn’t approve, and I’m pretty sure he might drop a lump of coal on you two to get you to hush.
- Do not drink. Drama + Drinking + Driving = bad news bears.
- Do not buy or withhold love by using your child’s pet against them. This is a pet peeve of mine. If your child has a pet and wants to be with them for Christmas, and the other parent is okay with it, let them take their pet. Also, if your child doesn’t have a pet, don’t buy them one for the other parent’s home without speaking with the other parent first. Do you realize how many animals end up in shelters because they were given as a pet? Pets are furry family members. They shouldn’t be a pawn in your game with your ex or with your child.
- Don’t be late. Be considerate of the other parent’s time with their child or with their other family members. This goes both ways. If you’re running late, once again, communicate. If something goes awry, there’s no real way to fix the situation. No matter how angry you are, your lawyers can’t fix that the other person or you were inconsiderate. You can’t turn back time, and neither can your lawyers.
- Still be a parent. Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean it’s okay to let your children get sick on eggnog and candy canes. Similar to the issue with buying love, giving them all the sweets and food they want, doesn’t make them love you more. This spoils them, and makes them sick when it’s time for the other parent to take over. How would you feel if you were watching the baby with a tummy ache Christmas night?
- Be considerate of the other parent if they have plans during your time with the children or if the children have plans during your time with them. Also be considerate not to make plans with the children if you do not have them during that portion of the holidays. You have to be flexible. Just because the Order says you get the children from a certain time to another certain time, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have a little give and take. However, both parents need to realize the give and take. There is no reason for one parent to make tons of plans during the other parent’s time, but then to refuse to give up any of their time.