For most people, the holidays are one of the happiest times of the year. But for families going through a divorce, this season can bring stress and anxiety instead of joy.
But by taking a few steps and precautions, you can survive the holidays and help make them an enjoyable experience for yourself and your children.
Work out a holiday custody schedule ahead of time.
Make sure you study your divorce settlement, decree or any other court order that outlines the dates and times of all custody exchanges. Know all the details: where the exchanges are to take place, who is allowed to be there, etc. Follow them precisely. If alternative arrangements need to be made, make sure you get them in writing beforehand.
If you and your wife have yet to agree on a holiday schedule, you might need to get the court involved. If it gets to that point, you need to act quickly. This time of year courts tend to have heavier dockets that they need to finalize before the year ends.
Getting a holiday schedule planned out well in advance is especially important if this is your first holiday season spent apart. Your children aren’t used to this, and letting them know what to expect will help ease the transition.
Build new traditions with your children.
Every family has their own holiday traditions they cherish. Divorce obviously throws a major kink into that, but that doesn’t mean this time of year can’t still be special.
Take time to think up new activities you and your kids can do together. Maybe it’s helping prepare Thanksgiving dinner together or going for a neighborhood drive to look at Christmas lights.
Just because a child has to split the holidays between parents doesn’t mean the season can’t still be memorable.
Respect your ex.
It’s in your best interest to help make the holidays enjoyable for your ex. Your children are spending a portion of their holidays with her regardless, so you don’t want her to be miserable. If you’re both constantly arguing throughout the season, your children could start to resent you.
If at all possible, work together with her to make the holidays positive for everyone involved.
Take care of yourself.
A good parent is going to put their child’s best interests before their own, but don’t forget to take care of yourself during this time of year. If this is your first year after splitting with your ex, or even if it’s not, the holidays can be especially emotional.
Don’t mope. If you need help, reach out to family and friends. You need to try to make the holidays an enjoyable experience for yourself as well.