The winter holidays are supposed to be happy, merry and bright. But this joyous time of year can be incredibly stressful. Interacting with extended family, entertaining, travelling, purchasing food and gifts, carving out time for all of those festive events. Now, add a divorce into that mix. If you have children with your ex, not only do you have to worry about the usual stuff, but you’ll also have to create a holiday parenting schedule.
We completely understand how difficult the holidays can be for newly divorced parents and blended families. Everyone wants the day (or days) to be perfect, but let’s be honest, holidays are never perfect, no matter what your family looks like. When our clients come to us with concerns about how much time they will have with the kids or what day they’ll get to have dinner, we advise them to be proactive, be equitable, and be honest.
1. The Earlier You Can Plan, The Better
It’s crucial that families start planning as early as possible. That way there is time to negotiate the big stuff, like when each parent gets to spend time with the child, and the smaller details, like who will do the drop-off or pick-up, and at what time. Surprises can be a good thing, but not when it comes to parenting schedules.
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2. Don’t Make A Big Deal Out Of A Day That Doesn’t Mean Much To You
Christmas day might be very important to both you and your ex. If that is the case, you are encouraged to work together to find a satisfactory arrangement. However, if December 25th was never that important to you during your marriage, but it was important to your ex, don’t make it a huge deal now. Allow your ex to choose the day they want to have dinner with the children. Next year, you can choose first.
If you both really want to celebrate on the same day (perhaps your relatives are only in town for one day) you may decide to share the day. Someone may have to do family brunch, and dinner might be pushed back, but finding equitable solutions requires everyone to make compromises.
3. Be Honest With Yourself
Don’t suggest ideas or arrangements that make you completely unhappy. The child’s best interests are most important, but your feelings matter, too. Some clients have asked us if they could try inviting their ex over for dinner so that the entire family could eat together.
This might work for exes who have a good relationship, but it could be disastrous for exes that have trouble being in the same room. Set yourself up for success.
Hopefully, these tips will help you feel less stressed about the holidays. Remember to enjoy the time that you do have with your kids. Your time is more valuable to them than any toy or gift you could give them. And keep things simple whenever possible.