Boo Hoo Hoo: Co-Parenting Through Shared Holidays


co-parenting holidaysHalloween is on the way! Many of us are looking forward to taking our little ghosts and goblins out for trick-or-treat fun. It’s my favorite time of year! However, this year, my son will be with his dad for Halloween. Sharing and alternating holidays is hard when you’re co-parenting!

This year, it will just be me and my husband at home on a regular Tuesday night. I will make dinner, work out and do all of the standard daily tasks. Without my son, the day isn’t so special. 

How Will I Survive?

After ten years of shared and alternating holidays, I’ve discovered some survival tips to get through the special days when I’m missing my son most. 

First, it’s OK to wallow. A little. Not having your children with you for celebrations is a deep kind of tough. It’s hard to still celebrate while missing those precious, smiling faces. Allow yourself some time to grieve the fact that your little one won’t be around for Halloween, Christmas or another special celebration. The only way to overcome grief is to feel it and experience it. Be sad, have a cry, vent to a trusted friend or write in a journal. Getting those feelings out will help. 

But don’t stay in Pity Party Central for long.

To snap out of it, I repeat all of the fun times my child has to look forward to while he spends that special day with his dad. I repeat all of those positive things to myself over and over. After a time, I start to believe them, and my focus shifts from my sadness to my son’s joy and happiness. 

Take Time to Celebrate, Anyway

Don’t plan to opt out of all holiday activities simply because your children are away. Plan to be part of a larger celebration with friends or other family members. Visit your place of worship. Attend that party. Wear that ugly Christmas sweater. Put out milk and cookies for Santa. Exchange Valentine’s Day notes with your coworkers. Invite a neighbor for pumpkin pie.

Holidays are for all of us, even you. Make plans to celebrate, even without your children.

Also, take some time for yourself. While your children are away, use the time to do something you enjoy. Visit a friend, go on a special date with your partner, see a movie, take a long bath or make a special meal. Embracing your child-free time is one of the best ways to help yourself feel better.

Call your child if it’s a major holiday or celebration that you’re missing. A short phone call to hear their happy voice can do wonders for your outlook. It brings me great comfort when I know my son is having fun and is being well cared for. 

Make plans with your children to celebrate before or after the actual day. Even though my son won’t be with me for trick or treat, there are many other opportunities for us to wear our costumes and enjoy celebrating Halloween together. Candy tastes good even when it’s not October 31! Learning to be flexible is important when co-parenting. 

When your children arrive home after celebrations elsewhere, smile and ask about their adventures. I love hearing about my son’s memories and experiences with his dad, grandparents and cousins. His life is full of people who love him; what a blessing.