The holiday season is a special time for getting together with loved ones to make lasting memories with your children. This is especially important for divorced families. If you find yourself recently divorced, in a challenging co-parenting relationship, or trying to blend families due to a new relationship, the holiday season may add a layer of stress for you. Here are some tips to help you manage the holiday season so that you and your child can experience the wonder and joy that this time of year brings.
Tip One: Review your possession order. You may have standard possession order for holidays, or you may have a customized order. There are numerous ways to split time with the child during the holiday season with the other parent, and you want to be sure you understand exactly what your schedule entails. Knowledge is power, and the more you know, the less surprises arise. It can also help you talk to your child about who the child will be with at specific times during the holiday season. For example, if you do not have your child this year on Christmas, you can let your child know that you will celebrate together on a different day.
Tip Two: Talk about gifts with your co-parent. By doing this you can avoid the child receiving multiples of a particular item. You should discuss this with your co-parent and other members of your family too. If the child is with the other parent on Christmas but Santa visits your home, too, it will be much less confusing to the child if Santa leaves different presents for the child at each house. It will also save you from having to explain what happened to your child because we all know Santa knows and sees everything.
Tip Three: Keep exchanges of the child stress free. If you now that someone in your life is a trigger person for the other parent, then keep them out of the child exchange process. For example, if you are in a new relationship and you know your new person and the other parent do not get along, your new person should not be present at the exchange. If your new person must be there, having the new person stay in the car or in the house but out of sight is best. If you and the other parent are having a difficult time, then you can designate a competent adult to handle the exchange for you (assuming your order provides for that). If you decide to do this, let the other parent know who will be picking the child up instead.
Tip Four: Start a new tradition. If this is your first year to navigate the holiday season while splitting time with the child with the other parent, this is particularly important and can be a lot of fun. Children are wise, and they know things are not the same now that you are divorced. Start making new memories. Have a cookie decorating contest with your child, make homemade pizzas, get funny slippers to wear around the house, start an ornament collection, or write letters to your child about things that happened during the year and put it in the child’s stocking. If your child is old enough, let your child choose a tradition he or she would like to start.
Tip Five: Take care of yourself. While it is important to help create new memories for your child, you also need to take care of yourself and plan things to do when you are not with your child. You may find that you are anxious and sad when your child is not with you, especially on the holidays. It is important to plan some fun things that you enjoy so that you do not focus on the fact they are not with you. Remember, you still get to celebrate with your child, just in a new and different way.
Blog post by Brandi Crozier