Now that the holiday season is upon us, people tend to get pulled into a bunch of different directions. From holiday planning to finishing up odds and ends before the New Year, the holiday season can bring forth a lot of stress. Last year, I wrote about tips for a happy and successful holiday season. This year, I’m expanding on my list to include some more helpful information.
1. Plan ahead and put the kids first.
The holidays are supposed to be a special time for kids and that means that all of the important people in their lives should continue to be involved. Children and adults deal most effectively with difficult situations by receiving as much relevant information as possible. It may be helpful to set up a time to discuss the holiday plans with your spouse or former spouse. If there is a plan in place, review it with each other to make sure you are on the same page. If there is no plan currently in place, discuss what you each would like to happen. These conversations should take place outside of the children’s presence. Decide on a plan, or confirm prior plans and make sure you decide how those plans will be shared with the children. Reviewing the plans in advance helps to provide structure. This will help the children organize their thinking and feel more secure – especially when both parents stick to the schedule by arriving on time and dropping the children off on time. While the holidays are a joyous time for many, they can also be emotional and, at times, difficult. For families that rotate holidays, it is important that the children understand how the holidays will work and that a special time is created in each home.
2. Keep open the lines of communication.
Whether you and your former partner are on a holiday rotation for your children, or you need to iron out travel details, everyone benefits from open, honest and respectful communication. Ask or give out information on special dates, like holiday concerts, that the other parent might want to attend. If the children are spending time with you, let them speak with the other parent. Make sure to give the children any cards and emails from the other parent.
3. Start new traditions.
Try to focus on new traditions that you and your children can enjoy together, while still allowing the children to talk about the “good old days.” This will help to create a very positive and healthy atmosphere. No matter how well-laid out your plans may be, circumstances can always change, especially during the holidays. A common example is if a winter storm hits the day you and your ex are doing a pick-up or drop off. Depending on the severity of the storm, the parent transporting the children might not physically be able to do it. Equally important as sticking to the plan is having a Plan B in place and presenting a unified parenting plan to the children.
4. Look at the big picture and try to be flexible as you and the children adjust to a new life together.
While the holidays are a special time for many, they can also be emotional and, at times, difficult. For families that rotate holidays, the kids may feel that they have missed out on good times with the other parent. Keep this in mind when discussing events that took place without the children. Make plans for your free time when the children are with your former spouse. This is a great time to have dinner with a friend, see a movie, or catch up on things you are not able to do when the children are with you.
Planning the holidays can be stressful no matter the situation that you and your family may have. However, if you make a conscious effort to follow these tips, you may find that some of the stress is lessened and the holidays may run more smoothly than you imagined.