TOLEDO, Ohio — While joyful, the holidays can also be stressful and blended families have unique challenges. 

"Given the time of year and the extra stress with the holidays, co-parenting can be a little bit tricky," said Samantha Byrne, a licensed professional counselor for The Willow Center.

Byrne said one of the biggest challenges for blended families that she works with is scheduling. 

"It's natural for any parent to want to spend as much time as possible with their child during the holidays and in a co-parenting situation, sharing is easier said than done," said Byrne.

Byrne said make sure scheduling doesn't become a battle and to never put the kids in the middle or make them pick who they want to spend time with.

"Regardless of where they are and whatever parent they're with, what's most important is providing a conflict-free, loving environment because that's what they need." 

Byrne said most likely, visitation is already pre-arranged, so stick with the plan and make sure the kids are in the loop. Also, keep the focus on your child's experience and not your sadness. Be specific with your language.

"Instead of saying, 'oh mommy's so sad, I'm gonna miss you.' You can support them in other ways and say 'but you're gonna have a great time at dad's house and I'll see you when you get back.'"

Byrne said that especially this time of year, be kind. Set your differences with your ex aside. Remember, they are learning from you to respect others even during conflict. "Not only is Santa Claus watching, but your kids are watching as well," says Byrne.

Byrne also reminds parents to take care of their mental health. It could be sad not to be with their kids the entire holiday season, so make sure to have a support system to get you through it.

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