The holidays are a time for joy, celebration, and family. However, if you recently divorced your spouse, it might be a little difficult to embrace the spirit of this season. Between gift-giving and navigating some of the snags you might encounter with your holiday parenting plan, you undoubtedly have many concerns. Fortunately, there are ways to get through this challenging time.
Tips to Effectively Co-Parent this Holiday Season
Before we dive into a list of co-parenting tips, you must first review your co-parenting plan. A lot happens during the divorce process and you might not remember exactly what your holiday parenting schedule entails. Review it before you start making any plans with the children that conflict with your co-parent’s scheduled visitation. Otherwise, some unnecessary arguments will ultimately arise and cause stress for everyone, including your children.
Here are some other tips you should consider this holiday season:
- Talk to your co-parent about the children’s gifts: It is tempting to one-up your spouse during the holiday season and feel like you are winning the children over with elaborate or expensive gifts. Unfortunately, this act of overcompensation will only harm your co-parenting relationship and possibly derail your budget. Coordinate with your former spouse to ensure your gifts are reasonably equal and to avoid purchasing two of the same item. Both you know your children, so it is not far-fetched to assume you might have the same gift ideas.
- Prepare yourself for tough times: Change is difficult for people, especially children, to adjust to. Your children might act out, so make sure you and your co-parent have consistent disciplinary rules to address their behavior. Maintaining similar rules in both households is crucial for establishing a stable and safe environment for your children.
- Talk to your kids: If this is your first holiday season after the divorce, your children likely do not know what to expect. Sit down and have a talk with them, so they understand what the plan is. It will give them a chance to emotionally and mentally prepare for the days ahead.
- Create new family traditions: If you focus on recreating old family traditions, it might stir up memories of how your family once was. Instead of clinging to old traditions, create new ones to avoid reminiscing over the past. For example, if you usually eat at the dinner table on Thanksgiving or Christmas, consider eating in the living room while watching holiday-themed movies. Mix things up and observe your children’s reactions.
- Take a much-deserved break: Your children are not going to be with you throughout the entire holiday season, so make the most of your free time and practice self-care. Whether it involves being around friends or spending some time on your own, reading a book or watching a movie, take some time to focus on yourself and your needs.
- Celebrate holidays together: Some families choose to celebrate the holidays together. As unconventional as this arrangement sounds, families that are able to commit to this type of arrangement often find this the most enjoyable for the children. The children do not have to constantly be traveling between parents and are able to spend time with all their family in one place. Of course, this is all predicated on the parents being able to spend the holidays together. This type of arrangement truly requires the parents to act as “grown-ups.” Parents might have to “bite their tongues” and avoid talking about any of their issues from the past.
- Be flexible and compromise: It’s always best to be flexible and creative during the holiday season. Even if you and your former spouse agree to a holiday arrangement for a given year, things happen. There may be instances where something last minute pops up and requires a change from the original plan. For these moments, it is best to be flexible with the other parent so that your children do not end up in an undesirable situation. You can also be creative with the holiday season. Just because Thanksgiving only occurs once a year, it doesn’t mean your children can only have one Thanksgiving dinner. If you will not be with your children on a particular holiday, consider celebrating the holiday with the children while you are with them the weekend before.
- Be thoughtful: Show your children that you can be thoughtful toward your former spouse. If you are taking your children to the mall to meet Santa, send your former spouse a picture so that they are involved and don’t miss out on the holiday moment. If you are having some kind of get-together, give some thought to inviting the other parent for the kids. Because it’s a group of people, you are not stuck one-on-one with the other parent. You don’t have to sit next to them at the dinner table. Thoughtful gestures can also extend to things like buying the other parent a present or having the children make them something for the holidays. If for no other reason, it’s important for the kids to emotionally to see that their parents can still get along.
- Include significant others when appropriate: The other thing to take into account when the holidays arrive is the presence of a new significant other in one or the other parents’ lives. And, when there are school plays, pageants, menorah lightings, or midnight masses to attend, chances are that significant other will be in tow. If someone new is going to be a part of someone’s life, it’s not appropriate to exclude them from those kinds of events. There should, however, be some boundaries in place. Parent/teacher conferences and therapy sessions might not be the best place to bring a new partner. Additionally, a heads up to your ex that you are bringing your new significant other is always appreciated.
- Don’t Be Mean: Your ex might drive you crazy for a variety of reasons and you have every right to feel whatever series of emotions that come into play while you are dealing with them. When they are being difficult about who will have your child on which day, you may feel the need to lash out. Resist this urge. It is the holiday season, and any frustration you feel need not be shown in front of your child. The greatest gift your child can see this season is to watch his/her parents talk things through and resolve conflicts peacefully. Grit your teeth and bear it, and don’t be mean (even if they deserve it).
Reach Out to a Compassionate Family Law Attorney Today!
If you run into some obstacles with your holiday visitation schedule this year, contact the team at Law Practice, Ltd. for the skilled legal services you need to navigate this situation. Our family law attorney has decades of experience and is committed to providing tailored solutions for your needs and goals.
Contact our law office today at (702) 899-2875 to set up a consultation.