I love celebrating the holidays with family and when I started dating a man with a child. It was an adjustment period. The first couple of years were rough. It was hard getting into the groove of where and what we were doing for the holidays.
In the first couple of years of our relationship none of us, including Mikayla’s mother and her boyfriend were ever at that place where we could be successful at co-parenting. Especially during the holidays.
Before the co-parenting happened
I will not lie, there have been arguments and hurtful words have been said between all four of us. We were all on the naughty list for a while. It wasn’t until I had a conversation with Mikayla’s mother and explained were on the same side because what we were doing was not working. We needed to figure out a better way. I know a lot of you are thinking well shouldn’t the father be having this conversation? And you are right, he should have.
However, knowing Mike he gets very flustered with his words and then gets agitated when what he says is not what he means. Having a lot of conversations with Mike, I took it upon myself to be the mediator. I am better with my words than he is and also an unbiased party who did not care why they broke up or the history they had. I was there on behalf of Mikayla. Making it clear we don’t have to talk about anything else, just Mikayla.
Something change over the years, she and I have developed what I would like to say is a friendship. We discuss Mikayla on a regular basis. We talk about her at school, her home life, chores, her likes, and dislikes. Anything and everything. We take about Christmas and birthday gifts, so we don’t get her that same thing. We also talk about whats going on with us and the things we are doing. I have come to realize over the years she and I have A LOT in common.
Making the child a priority
As I said before the first thing I did was make it known we don’t have to be friends, but we do need to keep an open line of communication when it comes to Mikayla. We made her well being a priority. When she was younger we would get her whenever we could, depending on everyone’s schedules.
As she is getting older we have made what she wants a priority. We ask every weekend if we can get her. Her mother either replies Mikayla says yes or Mikayla wants to stay home. We make it her choice. Now that she is old enough to express her feelings it was important we include her in the decision-making process.
Be flexible, especially when co-parenting
One thing we had to get used to was we wouldn’t always get her on the weekends. She would be with her mother during the school week and with us on the weekends. Then all of a sudden her mother said no, she is staying home and our minds were blown. We would be furious. That is our time with Mikayla, you had her the whole week. It was annoying especially when our weekends revolve around the kid.
It wasn’t until I calmed down and realized, yes she may have her during the week, but that doesn’t mean they get to hang out and do stuff as a family. During the week, her boyfriend, now fiance is at work. He works a lot to support their family. They have a child together, as well as Mikayla. Mike and I needed to take a step back and realize they need a weekend with her too.
One thing we make sure we do is to discuss weeks prior things that are going on, events, or family get-togethers that are happening and we coordinate. A couple of weeks ago her mother messaged me and gave me the break down of things happening between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Be flexible and Communicate
Here is an example of our communication. (I did remove names/changed some personal information)
Her mother on Nov 22, 2019:
What time are you guys picking her up tonight? 5:30-6?
She already cleaned her room yesterday. and has two projects that she needs to finish I’m going to send it with her.
She will be staying home the following 2 weekends.
We have thanksgiving at (her fiances) moms on thanksgiving, thanksgiving at my moms dec 1 and then the following weekend we’re going to Georgia for a bday party Saturday the 7th and then Sunday the 8th we have her other cousins bday.
I figure you guys can get her the weekend of the 14th & probably the 21st too if you want…
We are doing her bday on the Dec. 29th so of course you guys are welcome to come! We’ll do it at the park like usual.
And then I know you guys want her for Xmas eve and then later Xmas day possibly right?
Did you guys want to keep her during her thanksgiving break a few days by chance?
I remember you said you were doing Friendsgiving?
Split thanksgiving day like usual or…?
I know one of the days her friend is coming over during thanksgiving break but I won’t know which day. sorry I just info dumped just trying to remember everything going on
My Response Nov 22, 2019:
I need to ask mike what time he is getting off but we will say 5:30 6
2 Projects will be done…
Home for the next 2 weekends… Check
14th and 21st weekends shes ours… check
We can keep her this weekend until Wednesday night or Thursday morning if you want us to drop her off at your fiance’s mom’s house as usual.
Good co-parenting system
We have the system in place, but here comes a tricky part. We don’t get Mikayla for Christmas. She has never spent Christmas day with us. Which sucks. We won’t have her till she decides she wants to be at our house for Christmas morning. This is where being flexible comes into play. We will have her the weekend before Christmas up until late Christmas eve. Her mother has valid reasons for wanting her on Christmas day. With a young son, she wants both of her kids together on Christmas day.
I get it, it sucks for us sometimes. We have to keep the Christmas spirit going.
So with this arrangement, this year we will have her from the evening of the 20th-24th. We bring her home late Christmas eve. Then we most years we get her for New Years, but we will discuss this closer to Christmas. With this being our Christmas tradition for the past 5 years now, brings me to our next order of business.
Make your own traditions
Our traditions should not be the same as her mother’s. When she comes here we want her to have a different experience. Over the years we have come up with our own.
1. We start pulling out the decorations for Christmas the first or second week of November. To go through everything to make sure it still works and make a list of anything that needs to be replaced.
2. After everything is pulled out we start decorating a week after.
3. While we are out we look for a new ornament to put on the tree that represents what she liked that year. This year we bought a unicorn ornament. Mike and I also pick one out.
4. We always watch some sort of Christmas movie at night. We cuddle up on the couch with popcorn, snacks, and blankets. While the Christmas tree is all a glow.
5. Every year we do a DIY craft. One year it was our DIY fireplace another year it was our stockings or Mikayla paints an ornament.
6. Mikayla gets one gift early and that is her Christmas jammies and we take a photo of her in front of the tree. If not in her jammies we do take a picture in a nice dress. Sometimes both.
7. We like to go to a lot of Christmas events. We try to do as many fun family activities as possible.
You need to set realistic expectations when it comes to co-parenting. Someone is always going to be disappointed if you don’t. For the first 2 years, we did not have realistic expectations. We lived in a fantasy. You want to have ALL the experiences with your child.
Although, Mikayla is not my child. I still want her to have all the things I didn’t. We all do. This child has so many people who love her and want her to have the best holiday she can. I know it is a lot for her as a child.
Growing up she didn’t know what was going on, but now that she is older we have to respect what she wants and needs. We also as a blended family need to discuss any and all situations when it comes to her.
Nothing is worse for a child than when the parents don’t get along. Even if you don’t get along with the parent you fake it in front of the child. They don’t need to be included in the bashing of a family member.
Even if you are not in the place of co-parenting working out. Keep at it. We went 2 years with the back and forth and harsh words. You will get there. Always put the child first. Once I took the time to see the situation from Mikayla’s point of view our outlooks changed.
In the end, we want Mikayla to be happy and want to spend and enjoy her time with us. Although this was focusing on the holiday season, a positive co-parenting system should be in place all year round. Not only for your sanity but more importantly for your child’s.
I hope you guys enjoyed this little look into how we handle co-parenting as one family. If you are looking for more information or tips. I recommend checking out this article by Lorraine C. Ladish, Contributor Founder of VivaFifty.com called 10 Real-Life Tips For Successful Co-Parenting.
If you guys could, please share this post with your friends/family if you think it could help them. I do appreciate you taking the time to read this.
Until next time, Have a great day!