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Parenting is stressful for most people under normal circumstances, but when you toss a divorce and custody schedule into the mix, things can get even more complicated. While there is no foolproof handbook that will guide every step of the way through your journey as a single parent, there are some resources available that can help you successfully co-parent.

For example, there are online scheduling tools that will allow you and your ex to work out the details of pick-ups, drop-offs and even share your work schedules so that you can avoid miscommunications.

If co-parenting with your ex-husband is a relatively new experience, it will take some time to adjust. Here are a few tips to help you get through the challenges of co-parenting as a divorced parent.

Put your children first

This may seem like an obvious tactic but be sure to always make your children the priority when it comes to co-parenting. Whether your kids are still little or they are in high school, it is important that you keep them the focus of planning for special occasions. This means that you might have to go out of your way to make sure they get to spend time with you and your extended family as well as their father’s and his family.

Your divorce decree is the base line

In general, most divorce decrees provide an outline for the custody schedule around major holidays and the summer. You should use this as a good place to start when you and your ex hash out the details for a custody schedule when the kids are out of school.

Plan early

While it may seem a bit soon to start planning for the next break from school, it is never too early to begin making arrangements. You should be as specific as possible with your planning. For example, if your divorce does not include such details, you should specify where and when each drop-off and pick-up will occur. By doing this in advance, you might be able to head off potential problems before they materialize.

Stay flexible

While planning early will help you avoid problems, it is also important to remember that unforeseen events might arise. This means that you must remain flexible when the unexpected happens. For instance, if your husband’s family decides to make a surprise visit from out of town and their visit overlaps with your time, you should remain open to changing the plan. Extend the same courtesy to your ex as you want him to extend to you.

Whether it is a three-day weekend or a longer break, the above tips can help you co-parent successfully when the kids are out of school so that your children’s break is fun and stress-free. However, if you are having a custody dispute with your ex-spouse, keep in mind that you have options.