If your divorce was recent, celebrating the holidays can be quite challenging, to say the least. Now that the family dynamic has significantly changed, there are certain things you may have to do differently to ensure the season goes as smoothly as possible.
The key is to learn how to put your child’s needs first and work with the other parent to make the holidays as joyous and festive as possible. There is no question that this year will be difficult, but overcoming these obstacles can benefit your children and even make them stronger in the end.
The following are several tips for divorced parents to make it through the holiday season:
- Avoid conflict – If you divorce ended in a contentious battle with your ex, it is best for each parent to separately celebrate the holidays with their children. The purpose is to help kids avoid being stressed when there is tension between their parents in the same room. By contrast, if you and your ex get along, it is fine to have one holiday gathering with the children.
- Create a plan – Bring a calendar and sit down with your ex to determine how each of you will spend the holiday break with your kids. You don’t want your children to be uncertain about how the season will be spent or even choose between parents. Additionally, planning the holiday schedule in advance can help you avoid arguments and misunderstandings with the other parent.
- Let your kids have a say – Give your children a voice in the holiday planning. In the midst of so many changes within the family unit, letting your kids have some input about activities gives them a sense of control. If they wish to maintain a favorite holiday tradition, it can help them feel reassured that some things will remain.
- Start new traditions – While some traditions may stay the same, others may be difficult to carry on. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t start new traditions. Perhaps you and your kids can volunteer at a soup kitchen to feed the less fortunate, donate clothes and toys, take a road trip somewhere, or even spend a day in your pajamas and stuffing your faces with delicious treats.
- Take care of yourself – While you may welcome the distraction of trying to make your children happy, the truth is that if you are not happy, then your kids will notice and—in turn—may feel the same way. Rely on your support system if you feel overwhelmed, get enough sleep, follow a diet, and workout often.