After a divorce, co-parenting your children can still create many challenges throughout the year, but these may be significantly magnified as the holidays approach. Between events and gatherings with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends, you and your former spouse may be competing for precious time with your little ones.
It’s important to always follow the parenting plan established over the course of your divorce in order to avoid any major issues that could further damage the family, but in addition to that, here are a few more tips for co-parenting during the holidays.
Prioritize Your Kids
Never forget whose wellbeing is most important to consider, despite what happened with your former spouse. Make sure you are considering your children with each decision you make year-round, but especially during the holidays, which are supposed to be a fun and enchanting time.
You may feel the need to pull your kids in many different directions to visit family in the limited amount of time that you have together, but this may not serve your children well. Kids may become exhausted and not enjoy quality time if you are not taking their needs into consideration. Remember, this is a time for making memories, not for running your children into the ground and creating resentment for holiday functions. If your kids need a break, think about how you can incorporate that into the festivities.
If you and your spouse coordinate how you will handle gifts, you can limit the need to one-up each other each year. Decide on a budget, and make sure you aren’t getting the same gifts on your kids’ lists. Your children will be happier in the long run if both parents share the gift-giving duties equally as opposed to one outdoing the other.
Make Plans, But Be Patient
As stated earlier, it’s important to always follow the parenting plan set by the court when it comes to holiday time with your kids, but even more than that, make sure you have a plan for the time spent together. If there are extra activities or events that you would like for your child to attend, make arrangements with your ex to ensure that each parent is getting equal time.
Additionally, be patient. The holidays can be busy and stressful, especially if there is a lot of back-and-forth. Try to let the small things go, and remember that the most important thing is the experience of your child.
Never Argue in Front of the Kids
Though there may be disagreements from time to time, keep your arguing to a minimum and out of range of the children. Divorce is hard enough on kids, but repeated arguments between parents can be internalized by your children and cause them much distress throughout their lives. Consider settling disagreements after the kids go to bed or over email when decisions can be placed in writing in order to deter future arguments or misunderstandings.
Don’t Give Up on Self-Care
If you can’t take care of yourself, it’s very difficult to take care of others. Therefore, it’s important that you take some time to enjoy the holiday season as well. When the kids are with your ex, take time to relax, spend time with friends and family, and ensure that you are both physically and emotionally healthy. This will create a more positive atmosphere for the whole family and keep tensions to a minimum when the children are around.
In the event of a separation or divorce, it’s important to contact an experienced family attorney. Your attorney will help you through the process of creating a parenting plan and custody schedule that is beneficial for the whole family.
Conklin-Danao, D. (2017, November 23). Co-Parenting During the Holidays: 5 Tips to Follow. Retrieved from https://www.divorcemag.com/blog/co-parenting-during-the-holidays-tips-to-follow/
The typical stress that accompanies the holidays can be magnified for families that are either going through a separation, or who are experiencing this time of year for the first time since a divorce or separation. There are certain things that parents can do to mitigate this stress on children and the rest of the family, but it really should be a collaboration between the separated adults. The biggest priority should be ensuring that children have the opportunity to enjoy the season as much as possible without additional negative impacts from the divorce.
Here are five tips for separated or divorced parents to consider in order to make the crazy holiday season a little easier for children of separation.
1. Make New Holiday Traditions
It may be difficult for your kids to come to terms with the fact that the family will not be all together for certain activities, but take this as an opportunity to branch out and try new experiences without the pain of family memories. Explain to your kids that each parent will have the chance to begin a new tradition with them, and that means fun new activities and special time with each parent.
2. Enlist the Village
It’s ok to ask for help this time of year. Friends and family who understand the position you are in are valuable sources of support. Make sure you are taking care of yourself and the needs of your family, but don’t be afraid to ask others if they can pitch in to assist with the kids if the stress becomes overwhelming.
3. Be Flexible
Try not to be too rigid with regards to the timing of certain events and holiday celebrations. Just because a holiday falls on a certain day of the week, does not mean that it has to be celebrated on that exact day. Being flexible means that you can decide to celebrate a holiday before or after the actual date, and if there are events surrounding the holiday that you want to share with you kids, be flexible about picking and choosing the ones that are most important for you, and ensuring that your former spouse also has time to share with the kids.
4. Discuss the Importance of Family Over Things
Because finances are usually tight following a divorce, this may be a good time to talk to your kids about the importance of spending time as a family and having experiences over exchanging many gifts. Use this as a teaching moment to have a dialogue with your children about how you and your spouse love them regardless of the separation.
5. Be Realistic and Honest
Keep a realistic mindset about how the holidays will go following a divorce. It will be different, and there will likely be a broad spectrum of emotions displayed by yourself and your children. Manage expectations with friends and family by being honest about your situation, capabilities, and commitments.
Divorce is never easy on a family, especially during the holidays, but there are ways that you can make it a little more bearable for everyone involved. Always keep in mind that despite how well your kids seem to be taking to the new arrangement, their well-being should always be at the center of any decisions made that may affect them.
(2013, November 11). 21 Tips To Survive Divorce And The Holidays. Retrieved November 14, 2017, from https://drkarenfinn.com/divorce-blog/life-after-divorce/180-21-tips-to-survive-divorce-and-the-holidays