For many families, Halloween is more than a day; it is a tradition. It is a time where children and adults alike are excited to dress up, eat too much candy, and join in the community festivities. This can be difficult for families that are co-parenting and even more difficult with the struggles brought about by COVID-19. The Virginia Department of Health has shared lower-risk Halloween activities this year and even Dr. Fauci says we are in a safer space than 2020. Parents legally bound to a court-ordered custody schedule can breathe a sigh of relief. Yet, there still might be some tension regarding co-parenting during this fun holiday.
When children are small, Halloween is a holiday that the court may alternate every other year. What does this mean? Each year, one parent will miss the Halloween festivities with the child. Co-parenting is a little different. Co-parenting means that you work together for the best interests of your child. Halloween is no exception. In 2021 proper planning, preparation, and communication are needed to pull off a safe and enjoyable Halloween. Below are some suggestions for co-parents to consider together for an enjoyable Halloween:
Communicate COVID expectations
Since March 2020, there have been updated guidelines and changing safety regulations regarding the coronavirus. Co-parents should communicate what they are comfortable with and what would be best for the health of the child regarding Halloween. The VDH offers the following advice, “To protect against COVID-19, everyone should avoid close contact with people who do not live in their household, wear a mask (cloth face covering), and practice social distancing and frequent and proper handwashing.” Once co-parents agree on what is best then they can start to plan activities that fit their comfort level.
Be flexible with Halloween activities
This year we have a whole weekend to celebrate the spooky holiday and that means an extra day or two to share in on the fun. For some, sharing Halloween night is not an option. In that case, allow the parent who does not have the child on Halloween to take the child to an activity on a different night. From socially distanced pumpkin patches, trunk or treats, and open-air haunted forests, there are several moderate risk activities for parents to consider.
Get Creative with Halloween traditions
This is a great time to get creative or share in the creativity of your local community. In Richmond last year, a man went viral after he constructed a homemade candy chute that allows for no contact candy distribution. Other parents have decided on at home scavenger hunts or virtual costume contests. The CDC recommends lower risk activities like movie nights, pumpkin carving, and decorating in and outside of the house. With the rise of virtual events, there will be many opportunities for children to have double the fun this year if co-parents are on the lookout.
Halloween will still be a day filled with fun and candy! Just because a child has two homes does not mean that one parent should be excluded each year from celebrating Halloween. Remember, the goal of co-parenting is to create the best situation for the child and with COVID-19 there are new ways for parents to get involved in all the fun.
If a co-parenting agreement is best for your family but you don’t know where to start, the attorneys at Phillips & Peters can help you take your first step forward with a consultation.