Tips for Separated and Divorced Families for the Holidays:
1. Plan the holiday schedule and communicate with the other parent.
2. Confirm the schedule with the other parent. Miscommunication is the root of most coparenting issues. Listen to each other and read communications more than one time before responding.
3. Communicate specifics of the holiday plan with the other parent and the children. The children want to know what to expect. Providing specific plans allows each parent to avoid duplicating activities with the children.
4. Discuss family traditions and options for new holiday traditions with the children. Allowing the children to participate in planning activities will result in the children being engaged in the activity.
5. As with all child related activities, be flexible. The holidays are stressful for adults and children, especially children with two homes. As much as we enjoy the holiday season, we are often just as happy to return to regular routines after the holiday season. Imagine being a child who is living in two separate homes, and both families are trying to experience all of the holiday traditions. The child(ren) do not get much downtime.
6. Talk with your children and allow them to be honest about their feelings. Your children will miss some of the traditions and activities enjoyed when their parents were together and that’s OK. We all miss traditions from earlier days.
7. Sometimes the best way to help yourself and the children get beyond past traditions is to create new traditions. Don’t forget the old traditions, take the best of those traditions and improvise.
8. This is not the time to introduce new partners, new problems with the other parent, suggestions of moving or other emotionally charged information. Let your children enjoy the holiday season. All children deserve to experience the magic of the holiday season!
9. Remember that your children will sense the animousity betwen you and your coparent. The stress of parents fighting, or even not liking each other, will diminish the joy of the holiday. No parent sets out to limit their child’s joy.
10. Sometimes, recharging our own energy is as simple as taking a nap or and afternoon to read a book. The holidays will most likely resurrect some unpleasant memories and unhappy memories. In order to offer your children a happy holiday season with special memories, you need to feel happy yourself. But, don’t forget, you are not perfect, nor are your children!
Best wishes for a beautiful and happy holiday season!