The holidays are fast approaching. Soon, your children will be let out of school for winter vacation and the season of celebration will begin in earnest. When you and your child’s other parent separated or divorced, you likely drew up some sort of parenting plan. Holiday time may or may not have been addressed in that plan. But however your child custody arrangements are structured, it is important that you and your co-parent iron out holiday details as soon as you can.

If you and your child’s other parent do not plan ahead, you risk tension, stress, miscommunication and a frustrating holiday for everyone. Holiday planning is not always pleasant, but it is important. And it is also generally important to ask your children what they want to do, when appropriate. Children are rarely given a chance to voice their feelings about holiday plans. If you ask what they want to do and where they want to be, their answers might surprise you.

In addition, it is important to remain as calm and focused as possible when holiday planning with your co-parent. The holidays can be an emotional time and you two may end up barking at each other simply because you are stressed out by the season. However, if you and your co-parent can remind yourselves that you are making these efforts in order to give your children and yourselves a jolly holiday, it may be easier to keep negative emotions from flaring and running your festive holiday spirit.

Source: The Huffington Post, “3 Strategies for Negotiating Divorce, Children and the Holidays With Compassion,” Shakti Sutriasa, Dec. 9, 2014