The holidays can be a wonderful time of the year, but they can also be difficult and stressful. The obligations can seem endless – school performances, work parties, shopping for gifts and even family visits. Most families are often surprised at just how tense the holidays can be. This can be especially true if you’re co-parenting with your ex and have young children splitting time between two homes this holiday season. Nevertheless, with a little planning and flexibility, you and your children can still enjoy the most wonderful time of the year.
Here are 3 tips for divorced parents during the holidays:
- Your children come first: The first holiday without both parents present is usually the toughest for kids. You should expect some children to be confused, sad, angry, or disappointed. Take the time to listen to their concerns and validate that it’s okay for them to have these feelings. If you get stressed out about all the holiday minutiae, remember to think about your kids. They can feel your stress, so take a deep breath and find a way to decompress if tensions rise.
- Be open to changes with the schedule: Be flexible but firm about holiday plans. It’s often challenging to craft the right time-sharing arrangement for the holidays since both your and your children’s schedules can be very different than the regular day to day.
- Keep some traditions but be willing to make new ones: Some divorced parents choose to spend the holidays together to help their children feel supported. There’s nothing wrong with sharing these special moments – just because you’re divorced doesn’t mean you’re still not a family. Parents often decide to alternate holidays or slit the days in half. Many parents find that they want to be there for certain traditions so each year, they rotate where the children will be. If you haven’t done so already, you and your ex can lay out the agreed upon holiday schedule in a parenting plan – and even include provisions on how to handle changes in the holiday schedule. It’s an essential document that helps both parents get on the same page, from child support to visitation schedules.