Dear Diary,

This year, I’m celebrating the season solo. Oh, the joys of co-parenting! My ex is picking up our daughter mid-month. Although Thanksgiving somewhat prepared me for her time away from “mommy’s house” as she calls it, her absence will still be felt. I’ll miss her making mashed potatoes on her kid kitchen and pretending to fix a feast. I’ll miss seeing her face light up like the angel on top of the Christmas tree when she sees her gifts underneath.

Instead of becoming blue, I’m inspired to come up with creative ways to celebrate the season. Here are a few ways to co-parent through the upcoming holidays, even if you’re not the one who will spend time with your child.

1. Start New Traditions

If your parenting time doesn’t fall on the actual holiday, you can still enjoy the season. Start a new tradition together. Perhaps host a tree trimming party, a cookie exchange or a Christmas movie marathon. Open presents on Christmas Eve. Purchase an Elf on the Shelf. Or throw a New Year’s Day holiday shindig.

 2. Show Goodwill to Your Ex

Split the time to ensure your child creates memories with both parents as well as extended family visiting over the holiday. Meet in the middle for pick up and drop off, accommodate work schedules and avoid arguments. If you have school aged children, don’t add anxiety to their lives and ask them to choose where they will spend the day. Create a co-parenting plan in advance and share the schedule. Even if your ex is acting frosty, suck it up, and go on your merry way!

Remember, your child may not speak up, but he/she sees how you interact with each other and picks up negative vibes.

3. Remember the Reason for the Season

Don’t compete with your ex and go on a shopping spree. If it’s your year off for Christmas, save some money and put less gifts under the tree. What you have leftover, you can put toward a winter getaway or staycation. Enjoy the quiet moments in front of the fireplace. Focus on what’s important. Plan special activities, like ice skating or sled riding.

4. Give to Others

Instead of being a Grinch, spread holiday cheer and give to those in need. Spearhead a toy drive, volunteer at a homeless shelter or visit residents at a nursing home. When you focus on the needs of others, your problems don’t seem big as you first thought. And when you occupy your time, you won’t wonder what your child is doing without you!

Hey DFTM Fam–How do you celebrate the season when it’s not your turn to keep the kids on Christmas? 

About The Author

Vlog Mom/DFTM Creator

Not long ago, Heather Hopson hosted a television show in the Cayman Islands. Today, she's back home writing a different kind of story as a new mom. In her 15 years working as a professional journalist, this by far is her best assignment! Growing up, she dreamed of becoming Oprah Winfrey. She was the features editor for her school’s newspaper and a teen talk show host for her city’s most popular radio station. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Michigan State University. After graduation, she worked as a television producer and reporter at CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates throughout the U.S. Instead of heading to Chicago to join Ms. Winfrey on her set, she bought a plane ticket to the Cayman Islands instead. She arrived five days before a category five hurricane! She lived in paradise for seven years, hosted an award-winning television show and traveled the globe with a government delegation. She also served on the board of directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters and spearheaded a Send a Kid to Camp campaign. Then, she relocated to Washington, D.C. to obtain a teaching certification and instruct 8th grade reading at a high needs middle school. She later returned to her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA to raise her daughter Caitlynn, now 4-years-old. During her 10-month-stint as a stay-at-home mom, Caitlynn inspired her to create this blog, and Diary of a First Time Mom was born on Mother’s Day 2012. Two years later, she expanded the family to include 20+ writers. Currently, Heather serves as the communications director at Allies for Children. In addition, she is the owner of Motor Mouth Multimedia, which ranked #49 in Startup Nation’s Home-Based 100 Competition sponsored by Discover Card and Sam’s Club. Recently, The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments selected Heather to receive an Emerging Black Artist award to develop Diary of a First Time Mom.

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