The holiday season is a stressful period for any family with young children, but for parents who has recently divorced or are going through a divorce, the holidays can be a particularly harrowing time of year. Below, we take a look at three tips all divorced and divorcing parents should keep in mind as they navigate the holidays and strive to provide a vibrant and joyous season for their family and themselves.
Schedule your parenting time in advance
It's understood that time with children will be in high demand during the holidays—not just for parents, but for extended family, as well. Making sure that your holiday schedule is accommodating to both sides of the family in advance can help avoid needless stress and sudden conflicts with your co-parent. Be sure to have your attorney negotiate the parenting time you will have with your children and sign a stipulation in advance of the holidays so that there is no uncertainty and no tug-o-war. In addition, understand that this may be the first time your child is not with the other parent during the holiday, and be open to having your child skype or FaceTime with the other parent.
2. Be flexible
Every family has certain traditions around the holidays and a divorce is likely to interrupt at least a few of them. If you approach the holidays with a rigidity about these things—an unwillingness to alter or let go of some of these holiday rituals—you're bound to set yourself up for disappoint,ment anger, and sadness. Instead, focus on the traditions you will be able to maintain with your children and the rest of your family, or even invent new ones that you will be able to carry into the future.
3. Remember that no holiday is perfect
Even families who are not divorced can place a lot of pressure on themselves to make the holidays perfect for their children and the rest of their family. As a divorced parent, it's important to remind yourself that seldom does the holiday season unfold in precisely the way we want it to, and when it doesn't, it isn't necessarily any one individual's fault.
With this is in mind, make some self-care a priority during this busy time: it's okay to pass on throwing a holiday bash at your home one year or forgo other major holiday responsibilities you took on as a married parent. Ideally, you and your co-parent should recognize that you're both facing these changes—and that you have the ability accommodate one another and can even share photos and videos during the times when you're not at holiday events with your children.
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