For recently separated or divorced parents, the thought of the holiday season approaching can feel overwhelming and be a daunting subject to approach with your estranged partner. From trying to adjust to a new holiday schedule, incorporating new traditions, juggling travel plans, or balancing newly blended families, it is no surprise that high levels of stress and conflict often arise. While there may be no perfect one set of steps to follow in order to avoid this, as every family is unique, there are a number of helpful tips that help parents ensure that the holiday season remains a positive one for all family members.
1. Plan Ahead
- Planning let alone agreeing to a holiday schedule can be a difficult and tedious task. However, it is best to plan far this far in advance, if possible, not only to know when and where the children will be, but to also try and avoid unexpected surprises over the holidays. This will allow the parents, as well as the children, to better prepare for the holidays and be able to enjoy the time spent together rather than trying to accommodate last minute changes.
- Most people will often have a favourite part or activity associated with the holiday season. This means that when adjusting to spending the holidays in two, or more, households, there will have to be some degree of compromise. It is important to have an open mind with respect to alternating schedules each year as well as accommodating potential travel and/or activity plans.
- Communication plays a significant role in any successful co-parenting regime, especially during the holiday season. Always engage in open and honest communication, keep all discussions positive and solution-focused, respond in a timely manner, and if possible, try and have all communication in writing so as to avoid any misunderstandings.
4. Discuss Gifts
- Avoid engaging in any sort of gift competition with your estranged partner, as this will only serve to increase conflict. Try and discuss gifts beforehand, whether that include setting a budget, deciding what gifts may be appropriate, or perhaps decide to give a joint gift.
5. New Traditions
- All family members, including yourself, are in the process of adjusting to a new normal. Why not cease this opportunity and create new traditions together? This helps everyone, especially the children, move forward in a positive direction rather than focusing energy on any negative emotions that may be associated with the separation or divorce.
6. Reward Yourself
- Adjusting to this new chapter in your life can be a difficult, and not to mention emotional, process. Take a moment to reflect on the progress you have made. Whether that be having an evening to yourself, reading your favourite book, or indulging in a glass of wine, it is important to recognize the steps that brought you to where you are today.
7. Children Come First!
- Perhaps the most important tip of all, always remember that the children come first! The holiday season is not about catering to the parents, it is about ensuring that the children enjoy the same with both parents, regardless of the situation. Always leave the children out of any conflict associated with the separation or divorce, listen to what suggestions your children may have about scheduling the holiday season, and above all, let your children know that you are there to support them during this new adjustment.
The holidays are meant to be an enjoyable time of the year, where you have the opportunity to make new memories with your loved ones. While it may seem difficult, try and follow the above tips in an effort to make the most out of your holiday season this year!
If you have any questions regarding parenting over the holiday season, please contact Wells Family Law for a free consultation.
From everyone here at Wells Family Law, we wish you and your family a Happy Holiday!