While many occasions after divorce are hard, the holiday season often proves to be one of the most difficult, especially with children. Instead of planning your yearly traditions, you may find yourself thinking of all the things you and your kids will miss out on this year. Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa or any other holiday, it is still possible to enjoy the season. Here are some tips on how to make the most of this time of year for you and your family.
1. Plan it ahead
This is not the time to wing it; you need to be sure you have all details ironed out, down to the pick-up/drop-off times and places. You should also figure out a schedule that works best for your family. Some parents, like one couple mentioned by CNN, choose to split the holidays every other year and spend their off-year traveling or visiting friends. Other families want to divide the days and are able to spend every holiday with their kids. There are many other options, but you and your ex can decide together which schedule suits yours family best.
2. Choose traditions to keep
There is no way this year will be exactly like the others, but that doesn't mean it has to be entirely different. If you and your ex can avoid fights, you may want to pick one or two traditions to maintain as a family. Find out which memories are your kids' favorites and, if possible, keep those going. For other less-important items, or if you cannot stand being around each other without fighting, gently explain that some things just will not be possible, but you can make new traditions.
3. Put your children first
Of course you want to enjoy the season yourself, but making your children's happiness your number one priority will make the transition easier for the whole family. A good parenting plan might relieve the stress of the situation. Commit to resist arguing with your ex, complaining if the kids are dropped off a little late or competing to give the best present. If you are participating in a shared tradition as a whole family and know that inviting your new flame along will cause painful emotions, hold off for this year and let everyone ease into the change. Remember that your children will notice your efforts, and it will pay off later when they are adults and can choose where to spend the holidays.
This year can still be full of cheer if you approach the tender situation delicately and consider what is best for your whole family. By enlisting the help of a divorce attorney, you and your ex may be able to determine a plan that will allow everyone to enjoy the holiday season.