When parents first split up, they aren’t always sure if their split will be permanent and what that means concerning the family home. They may choose to keep their child in their family home and co-parent in the same home, so they don’t need to move their child around so much – this is called birdnesting. If it seems the best solution, some parents continue to do it permanently until the child grows up. If this is your family’s arrangement, it might affect how you co-parent during the holidays.
Here are 4 Ways to Co-Parent During the Holidays if You Share the Family Home
Gifts for Your Child
Gift planning may be a little complex if you and your ex-spouse share a home. It’s wise to consider what types of objects might be difficult in your household: for example, those that are large (hockey sticks), noisy (drum sets), high-maintenance (garden plants), fragile (lace sweaters), demanding (piano lessons), expensive (diamond jewelry), controversial (smartphones), or dangerous (motorcycles), might be gifts you want to discuss with your ex-partner before purchasing them.
Of course, a pet can also be something you’re considering, so giving pets as gifts are generally discouraged unless your ex-spouse is okay with it.
Remember that your child will likely keep any physical gifts they receive in the family home (since it’s their only home), and your ex will sometimes parent them alone here. That means your ex will share responsibility for these belongings in the future; before giving your child a gift that will change the house’s dynamic (such as a pet), discuss it with the other parent.
Gifts for the Other Parent
If your child is still too young to select and purchase gifts for their other parent without your help, ask yourself whether the other parent will take the gift home to their outside residence or leave it in the family home.
You might want the other parent to take the gift away with them if it’s something they should enjoy on their own time, like a detective novel, or be responsible for protecting something like a silk scarf.
On the other hand, you might want a gift to stay in the family home if it’s related to an activity, like baking or fishing, or anything your child can partake in.
Other Holiday Traditions
Suppose you and the kids are invited to spend the holidays somewhere else, such as in the home of grandparents or aunts and uncles. In that case, you’ll plan their travel according to your co-parenting schedule for holidays and consider any other agreements you’ve made about maintaining connections with extended family. How you and your ex physically share your family home may be irrelevant.
But if you and the kids celebrate on your turf, your family home will become the center of all the holiday activity. Because it’s a shared space:
- Plan how you’ll share home-related responsibilities, including cleaning in advance, decorating inside and out, cooking, entertaining guests, and cleaning up afterward.
- Set expectations for how your child will help.
- Think about how you and your ex’s family traditions will remain mingled from the child’s perspective — or how you’ll carve out time and space to separate these traditions.
- Explain how you’ll welcome each other’s invited family members and realistically anticipate how long they might stay.
- Decide if you and your ex will be in the family home at the same time at any point during the holiday and if you’ll celebrate (or avoid celebrating) any specific traditions, like singing, that require each other’s participation or attention.
Enjoy the Holiday Season
Many people find the holiday season stressful regardless of their relationships or housing situations. But co-parenting during the holidays can also bring joy and beautiful memories. When you set expectations and plan for the holidays, you may avoid misunderstandings and increase everyone’s appreciation of this particular time.