Will this be your first holiday season of co-parenting with your co-parent post-divorce?
Are you struggling with the traditions you and your children have known and loved for years and now things seem to be “all over the place” and just chaotic?
Or maybe it’s not your first holiday season after your divorce, but you still feel incredibly stressed out over all the demands and changes that are occurring.
Can you even expect to have a happy holiday season when you’re divorced and co-parenting?
Here are a few things that we as co-parenting specialists like to share so that you and your children can enjoy this special time.
If you and your co-parent can communicate in advance, this helps avoid last-minute conflicts.
If you’re not able to communicate, then following your Parenting Plan makes the most sense.
This plan should address in detail where the children will spend each holiday and how the time will be divided.
Of course, you will want to consider what your children want to do, but it’s important that you “drive the bus” when making decisions.
Putting kids in the position of having to decide who they want to spend the holiday with puts them in a “no-win” situation. Children will pick up on what they “think” each parent wants and they will try to please both. It’s very stressful and unfair for them.
They should be able to enjoy time with both parents as well as extended family.
The most amazing thing that I believe parents do not pay enough attention to is that the actual date on the calendar is not at all what kids think about or remember.
They will think about the memories you make and the day that happens to occur is of little importance.
For example, if you and your children will be doing activities during your parenting time that you know they love (baking cookies, watching movies and eating popcorn, playing games, etc.) then the day does not matter – it’s focusing on the memories you’re creating with them in mind.
Another major cause of stress for parents is trying to please everyone including extended family.
Oftentimes, it’s best to determine what the decision will mean to your children and not necessarily meet everyone else’s demands.
Consider what you may need to set limits on when it comes to your family.
The holidays are not always the best time in our lives and sometimes we create more stress for ourselves because we cannot set some new boundaries.
Keep extended family members informed about the co-parenting plan for the holidays. This can help avoid misunderstandings and ensure a smooth experience for everyone involved.
This is a time where incorporating “new traditions” can alleviate the overwhelm of expectations during the holidays. Focus on the well-being of your children first and what their needs are.
This is a special time for them to feel joy and have fun so flexibility is key. Be willing to make adjustments and I always recommend having a Plan B. Parents should keep a positive attitude during this time even under the pressures of knowing that things are not always fair. If possible, try to incorporate shared traditions from both households. This can help create a sense of continuity for the children and make the holidays special for them.
If you will be having some alone time, consider adding new traditions to your holiday season.
Friends and family are usually more than willing to include you when your children are away.
Use this time as an opportunity to recharge and create a space for yourself to recover and thrive in a healthy way. Make your experiences positive and memorable as well! You also deserve this and it will alleviate some of the stress you may be feeling.
Stress during the holidays is a given in most families. With planning, communication, and a willingness to truly do what is best for your children, you can create a positive experience for them with memories they will have for a lifetime.
Happy Holidays to you and your dear, sweet family!