For children, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and other holidays are a time of joy, celebration, and memories. Unfortunately, they can also be a time of stress for parents who are divorced or separated. If you are a divorced parent or soon will be, you may be struggling to manage the holiday stress as a co-parent. There is no way to completely avoid parenting stress and conflict this time of year, but you may be able to reduce some of the tension. Here are ten tips to help you handle the holiday season with less stress when co-parenting.
Surviving the Holidays as a Divorced Parent
During fall and winter holidays, the normal routine can be disrupted. Children have a break from school, extended relatives visit from out of town, and events quickly fill up the calendar. All this change can be difficult to navigate as a divorced parent. If you are separated or divorced, consider the following tips for the holiday season:
- Comply with your parenting plan – As always, adhere to your parenting plan and respect the agreement. If you are in an ongoing battle with your ex-spouse or partner regarding child custody, think twice before making any changes for the holidays without consulting your attorney.
- Discuss holiday plans early – Open communication between you and your ex is essential at all times, but especially during the holidays. As soon as possible, have a conversation to plan which days the kids will spend with each parent throughout the season.
- Set boundaries – It is important to establish boundaries for yourself and your ex. Respect each other’s time with the kids, including any extended family who may be visiting. Respect also includes understanding your ex’s boundaries and expectations for the arrangement.
- Create new traditions – When splitting custody, it can be difficult to maintain older family traditions. Consider creating new ones and sharing them with the kids.
- Focus on your children – Even though it can be difficult, focus on the needs of your children first. Avoid putting them in the middle of any conflicts you may have with your ex.
- Talk to your children frequently – Make sure your children feel comfortable talking to you about any worries or concerns they may have about spending time with both parents.
- Focus on experiences instead of expensive gifts – If you are like many parents getting divorced, money may be tight. Consider low-cost activities like arts and crafts or building a snowman instead of buying more expensive gifts.
- Be flexible – If possible, be willing to adjust your plans so that both you and your ex can spend holidays with the kids.
- Be mindful of your emotions – Divorce and co-parenting can be very emotional. Make sure that you take time for yourself, practice self-care, and seek help from a therapist if needed.
- Let go of resentments – Try to let go of any resentment you may have towards your ex. Doing so can help reduce stress and prevent conflict during the holidays. Above all, remember that although the holiday season may be filled with stress, it is ultimately about spending time with your children and creating lasting memories.
Contact a Palatine Divorce Lawyer
If you are a parent getting divorced, contact our Arlington Heights divorce lawyer to get the legal support and help you need. Call the Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson, P.C. at 847.873.6741 for an initial consultation.