The holidays are supposed to be the most beautiful time of year. But for families going through a divorce or recently divorced it can be a stressful and difficult time. This can be especially true if it’s the first holiday season since the quick uncontested divorce. While this time of transition can feel overwhelming and trying there are some ways that can help prevent drama and reduce disruption during the holidays.
- Put your children first. This should be in the forefront of your mind. It’s important to ensure that your kids feel loved and wanted. Try not to change things during the holidays that you don’t absolutely have to. If possible, try to maintain the family traditions that the children look forward to every year. If you can focus on what your kids need and less on what you want, you will make better choices for the holiday season. Even if your divorce was difficult and controversial it’s likely that you and your spouse want the best for your children. It’s advisable to remember that during the holidays your children’s best interests should come first. While easier said than done, it’s in the best interest of the child to co-parent amicably. If possible, cut down on arguing, encourage your child to spend time with the other parent and don’t disparage your spouse in front of the children.
- Make a holiday co-parenting plan in advance and be flexible. Your child custody plan probably already has a holiday schedule that can make planning for the holidays easier. However, what worked when your child was 6 may no longer make any sense when the child is now 15. Don’t be afraid to think that what your former spouse might be suggesting for the holidays isn’t such a bad idea. It might actually make things easier for everyone. Take a deep breath and consider being flexible with your spouse or at least meeting halfway. There are multiple ways to celebrate the holiday season with your children, depending on specific situations. The following are a few ideas to help create a co-parenting holiday plan:
- Decide in advance which holidays the children will spend with each parent
- Use your initial parenting plan as a baseline
- Spend the holidays together if possible
- Alternate holidays yearly
- Splitting the holiday evenly
- Communicate effectively. Clear and prompt communication is very important during the sometimes chaotic holiday season. As mentioned above, sitting down with your former spouse and creating a plan for the holidays is advisable, but that shouldn’t stop communication in other areas. In today’s technological age it’s possible to send a text or email quickly in order to help eliminate confusion or excuses later.
- Talk about gifts. It’s important that no parent tries to one-up the other when it comes to the children’s holiday gifts. Also, if there is no communication with the former spouse regarding gifts, it’s possible to duplicate them. This can be disappointing for the kids and time consuming for the parent if you have to return the item. One solution to these issues is to consider combined gift-giving. Depending on how well you get along with your former spouse here are some tips:
- Consider agreeing on a budget or a combined pool of money for gifts.
- Schedule a combined gift-giving event
- Label all gifts from “Santa” or put both names of the parents on the most expensive gifts.
- Divide up the top wanted items between both parents
- Help your children wrap and give gifts to your former spouse.
- Prepare the kids for possible changes. Be sure to communicate clearly to your children about any changes or new plans for the holiday season. Let them know what the plans are and what they should expect during the holidays.
Co-parenting during the holiday season has its challenges. It’s important for both parents to communicate with each other and create a plan that is best for everyone involved. By following these tips hopefully both parents can work together and accomplish a holiday season that is wonderful and full of memories for the children.