For many people, the holidays are a time of joy and happiness where the traditional obligations of work and school are put on hold, and families come together to celebrate. However, it can be a difficult and stressful prospect for those who have recently gone through a divorce and will likely be spending the holidays differently than in years past. If you’re in this situation, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Many families go through similar changes, and different best practices can help make the holiday season go more smoothly.
Some important things to keep in mind when preparing for the holidays after a divorce include:
- Make a plan: One of the best things you can do is to sit down with your co-parent and hash out a plan for how you’ll handle the holidays. This will help ensure that everyone is on the same page and avoid any last-minute surprises or disagreements. Discuss items such as which holidays you’ll each celebrate with your children, how you’ll handle travel and any other important logistics that need to be considered.
- Be flexible: It’s important to be flexible regarding the holidays after a divorce. There may be years when things don’t go as planned, and that’s okay. The most important thing is that your children can spend time with both of their parents and enjoy the holidays to the best of their abilities. For example, if you originally planned to travel for Thanksgiving, but it turns out that your ex cannot take time off work, a good act of faith would be trying to find a new solution that allows both of you to see your kids during the special time.
- Keep communication open: Communication is key when it comes to managing the holidays after a divorce. If you have any questions or concerns, be sure to bring them up with your co-parent so that they can be addressed promptly and effectively. You don’t want any holiday surprises to turn into stressors for either you or your children, so keep them updated and in the loop as much as possible.
- Create new traditions: Just because your family dynamic has changed doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the holidays. In fact, this may be the perfect opportunity to start new traditions that better fit your family’s needs. If you’re unsure where to start, brainstorm with your co-parent and children to come up with ideas that everyone will enjoy. For example, you might consider having a special holiday breakfast instead of dinner, exchanging gifts on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day, or starting a new holiday tradition altogether. Take advantage of the opportunity to create something new and special for your family that can take focus away from any sadness or stress that may come when approaching the nostalgic holiday season.
- Put your children first: Above all else, keeping your children’s best interests at heart is important. They’re likely going through a lot of changes as it is, so try to make the holiday season as stress-free and enjoyable for them as possible. This may mean making some sacrifices on your part, such as spending less time with extended family or skipping holiday parties, but it will be worth it, in the end, to see them happy and healthy with the least amount of disruption to the holiday traditions they love as possible.
Q: How Can Two Divorcing Parents Make the Holiday Season Less Stressful for Their Children?
A: One of the best things that divorcing parents can do is to sit down and hash out a plan for how they’ll handle the holidays. Start by discussing which holidays you’ll each celebrate with your children, how you’ll handle travel in between homes, and the time allotment your children will spend with each parent. Once you have a plan in place, communicate it to your children well in advance so that they can prepare for the holiday season and have time to process what things will look like moving forward in their new family dynamic.
Q: Should We Allow Our Children to Choose Which Parent They Want to Spend the Holidays With?
A: This can be a difficult decision for divorcing parents, but ultimately it depends on what’s best for your family. If you think your children would benefit from having a say in which parent they spend the holidays with, then consider letting them choose. However, if you think this would be too stressful or difficult for your children, then it’s probably best to devise a plan you both agree on. The general rule of thumb is that as long as both parents have a formal custody agreement, the holidays should be treated like any other day on the calendar.
Q: What If We Can’t Agree on How to Handle the Holidays?
A: If you and your ex-spouse can’t agree on how to handle the holidays, then it’s best to consult with a mediator or attorney. They can help you develop a plan that considers your schedules, parenting styles, and the best interests of your children. Of course, it would be best to settle this matter outside of a courtroom, but if you can’t agree, a judge will ultimately make the decision for you.
Q: How Should I Talk to My Children About Our Holiday Plans?
A: When discussing your holiday plans with your children, be honest and upfront about what to expect. If you’ll be spending the holidays apart from your children, explain to them why this is happening and how it will work. Reassure them that they’ll still be able to see and spend time with both parents, even if the holiday season looks a little different this year. If you’re unsure about how to have this conversation, consider speaking with a therapist or counselor who can help you navigate this difficult topic.
To secure a future of holidays that are stress-free and enjoyable for everyone, consider consulting with an experienced Midwest family law attorney. Their legal expertise and guidance can prove invaluable as you create a parenting plan that works for your unique family while disrupting the holiday season as little as possible.