The holidays are often a time of joy, happiness, togetherness, and celebration. However, not all families have it so easy. Sometimes the holiday season can also bring about drama, angst, uncomfortable situations, and the all too familiar difficulty of trying to navigate parenting time between separated or divorced parents.
If you or someone you know is facing a similar issue this season, consider these following five steps towards a stress-free holiday parenting arrangement.
Think about the kids. The children should always be the most important piece of the puzzle when it comes to parenting time. After all, they are the reason you and your ex-spouse are still connected in the first place—make sure they are always the priority. If you know that Tommy would rather spend Christmas with mom and New Year with dad, consider making an arrangement that accommodates his preferences so that he can enjoy the holidays too.
Be reasonable and fair. Remember that parenting is not a contest. Be kind and thoughtful, and maintain the parenting schedule as much as possible, keeping it fair, but also flexible if needed to best support a positive holiday. Treat your ex the way you would want to be treated.
If mom typically has the kids most of the time, it may be fair to give dad a little extra during holiday breaks, and vice versa. It’s certainly not always the easiest thing to remain neutral when it comes to this topic; however, the more flexible and considerate you are, the easier it will be for everyone.
Prepare ahead of time. Be aware of the fact that you may have to spend some amount of time around your ex-spouse or partner. This is especially true if you want to try to keep the holidays as “normal” as possible and reduce some of the chaos of running back and forth from one house to the other in efforts to keep parenting time equal. Prepare yourself to be in the same room and behave cordially towards your ex.
Not all families choose to do holidays together after a divorce or separation, though. If this is more like your situation, make sure you are prepared to spend the holidays a little bit differently this year. Traditions may be altered, and things may not look the same as what you are used to. That’s okay! Try to make new traditions and enjoy whatever time you have with your kids, regardless.
Think outside the box. Sometimes holiday parenting time is best arranged with a little bit of creativity and thinking outside the box. A lot of families choose to celebrate certain holidays on a different date. For example, dad might have the kids on Christmas morning, and mom might celebrate Christmas with the kids the day after. It’s not the date that matters; it’s the time spent with loved ones.
Think openly when it comes to this subject; this will allow you to focus less on the details and more on the bigger picture—spending quality time with the ones you care about most. Come up with new solutions to age old problems! There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to parenting time as long as you do what is best for your family on an individual needs basis.
Leave the drama at home. Remember that whenever children are involved, drama shouldn’t be. The divorce or separation that has occurred between you and your ex is no fault of your children’s. Save all of those adult topics for adult conversations where children will not accidentally overhear things that they shouldn’t. The holidays are no place for arguments or dissension.
Remind yourself what is most important during this season: family. And remember that not all families look the same, do things the same way, or have been through the same things. Your family is unique to you. And they are special, important, and loved. Don’t sacrifice the wonderful memories that you could make this holiday season just to win one argument or get one extra hour with the kids.
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