The holiday season can be a stressful time for everyone. The lists, the shopping, the meal planning, the crowds. It can feel like a time where you never get to stop and take a breath. Trying to maneuver that in a co-parenting situation can make the holidays even more stressful, but it doesn’t always have to be.
As a single parent myself, here a few ways I have found that make the holidays a little less stressful and a little more fun.
Communication is really the most important thing. Having an open discussion about what yourself and your ex-partner are hoping to have for the holidays is the best place to start. You may find that one of you is more attached to having Christmas Eve than Christmas dinner (if you celebrate), or maybe one of you was really hoping to ring in the new year with your child and the other may be willing to give that up in order to have them for the big feast.
No matter what the situation is between the two of you, stepping into the conversation with the experience being positive for your child at the forefront can help keep emotions from overtaking logic. Compromise can be difficult on both sides of the conversation but learning to navigate through what can feel like the most important holiday of the year can really be a positive experience for everyone involved.
Remember that there can be several different ways to divvy up the holidays. One parent could have Christmas Eve and morning, while the other parent has Christmas dinner and New Year’s Eve. There is also, if both parties have remained amicable, the option of one parent hosting Christmas morning at their home and the other stopping in to join them. Or perhaps trading off the holidays every year might be a better fit for you and your family. This can be very useful if you like to vacation for the holidays. Those are just a few examples, creativity around this time of year can be your best friend.
The holidays can be famously, and sometimes infamously, full of surprises. Taking a bit of time to plan your child’s winter break from school, hand-offs and pick-ups between parents, details of your own personal holiday traditions, and how to keep things consistent, will be massively helpful. Remember, these are your holidays too so make sure you are taking the time to make the best out of every situation, capture the memories, and enjoy the moment.
As I said before, the holidays can be the most stressful time of the year. But they are also the holidays! Take some time to yourself to figure out what the most important parts are to you and your child, have the conversations with the other party, and figure out how to make this holiday special and memorable for everyone. And don’t forget to treat yourself a little too, you deserve it.