As a divorced parent, the winter holiday season can be one of the most difficult to handle with your ex. Not only can the holidays bring up a lot of emotions about the past and present, but it’s a time when you and your ex may want to spend as much time as you can with your kids and your divorce makes that difficult. Here are some tips for splitting up the holidays with your kids and making the most of the time you have together:
Stick to Your Schedule
When you are co-parenting with your ex spouse, scheduling is everything. Not only is sticking to your schedule most likely part of your custody agreement, but it provides routine and normalcy for your children. Even if your ex has recently remarried and wants to extend his or her holiday time to incorporate his new in-laws, it’s important to stick to the schedule.
If you’re open to flexibility, talk with your child and see what he or she wants to do and don’t try to persuade him or her to make a decision based upon your personal feelings. If changes are made to your schedule, make sure that it’s balanced during another holiday season or another time of the year. Additionally, don’t forget to keep your kid in the loop about any changes that are made.
Practice Gratitude and Positivity
The holidays can be a difficult time of year for everyone, not just divorcees. Although you may have less than pleasant thoughts about your ex and your situation, it’s important to make your children the center of your joy and attention. When you spend time with your kids, practice gratitude and try to be positive. Avoid bad mouthing your ex or getting in an argument over the phone or face-to-face if your kids are present. Remember, you may not love (or even like) your ex anymore, but your child still loves his or her other parent; respect his or her feelings.
Create Your Own Tradition
If you only have your child during part of the holiday season, make the most of your time together. Did you used to have a tradition of decorating the tree or lighting the menorah, as a family? Just because your family size has changed, it doesn’t mean you can’t continue traditions. In fact, many kids get excited knowing that they have special traditions with each parent.
Competition between parents is ugly and can be damaging for your kids. If you are a gift giving family, don’t try to outdo one another. A good idea, if you and your ex are amicable, is to see if you can purchase something big (like a bike or computer), together. Don’t try to be the “better” parent, you are wonderful just as you are.
Take Care of Yourself
When your children are spending holiday time with your ex, don’t forget to take care of yourself. The holidays can feel really lonely, but if you surround yourself with support and spend time with family and friends, you are less likely to feel alone and sad about your situation.