Halloween is my favorite day of the year. Who doesn’t love dressing up and getting free candy. My children love it just as much as I do. My favorite part is getting to see my kiddos transform into their favorite character of the year, the sparkle of excitement in their eye, leaping with joy at the thought of going out into the world to gather goodies and candies from all over the neighborhood. Below are some tips to not let a rocky marriage or pending divorce ruin this joy and excitement of the holiday for your children.
- Check your Parenting Plan & Plan Ahead: Do not wait until October 29th to figure out who has the kids for Halloween. Not everyone celebrates Halloween or considers it a major holiday, so it may be that this holiday is left out of your holiday schedule. Waiting until the last-minute causes chaos for you, the children, and the other parents. Children thrive in structured and stable schedules, if something is coming up out of the ordinary, you’ll want to set expectations for your children of what the night will look like, and this cannot be done if you are arguing last minute with your co-parent about who gets what times. If your co parent does not agree or you cannot come to an amicable resolution regarding said Holiday, you will have to give your lawyer enough time to either settle the issue or file a Request for Order regarding the missing holidays in your parenting plan. Either option takes time, and that’s time you will not have if you wait till the last minute.
If the Halloween is in your parenting plan, do not IGNORE the schedule. You are bound by this parenting plan unless the other parent agrees to something different IN WRITING! Do not unilaterally decide you do not like your parenting schedule for Halloween and change it without discussion.
- Leave Your Children Out of the Middle: This is the same advice for most issues when navigating a divorce, separation, or determining if it is time to split. Leave your children out of it. Do not ask them for their opinion or whether they want to spend Halloween with Mommy or Daddy. This creates the feel that your children have to pick a side and that one parent will have feelings hurt over the other This is not fair to any party. Halloween should be for the kiddos and a time for them to have fun. Some parents will need to suck it up for the sake of their children and make a joint decision together while leaving the children directly out of it.
- Share the night with your Co Parent or Go Together: If you and your former spouse live in the same neighborhood, or one parent is willing to drive to your children, let them share the night. It is healthy and often productive to show your children that although you are not together with their parent, you can come together for special occasions and important nights in their lives. It shows that you are able to stand together as a team to parent these children you both love so much. I guarantee the other parents wants to spend holidays with their children as well and if it’s possible and amicable, take the children trick or treating together. Those are the kind of lasting memories you want to create.
If it’s not possible to go together, make arrangements to trick or treat in both neighborhoods and split the evening with your co-parent. Being given the possibility to trick or treat twice is something I don’t see your children refusing.
However, if neither of these options will work for you, do the best you can to include the other parent; facetime them once the kids have their costumes on, send pictures, do a costume fashion show. The distant parent can send “boo baskets”, take the children to the pumpkin or carve jack-o- lanterns near Halloween to keep the holiday fun alive.
- Spending the night alone: If you’re separated by some distance, it’s not “your year” or if the other parent is uncooperative, you may find yourself spending Halloween alone. If you find yourself alone on Halloween, reassure the children that you are okay! That you are so excited to see pictures of their costumes and hear all about trick or treating. Pump the Kids up for a night of fun and excitement with the other parent, even if that means spending it alone. Do not tell them how much you’re going to miss them or feel alone without them, or emphasize your loneliness, this will cause the children stress and regret when they could be out trick or treating and enjoying the night. Let your treat to them be that you are going to have a fun night as well. Do not ask them “well who would they rather be with or where they would like to spend the holiday. They do not need this added pressure.
All in all, I can understand and sympathize the last thing you want to do is spend a holiday without your children but remember everything in California Family Court is done with the best interest of the children in mind. What may be best for you, is not always best for the children. This is their night for fun and treats and just staying children just a little bit longer.