The holidays are a stressful time for most and, for divorced or separated parents, they are often considerably more challenging. If this is your first post-divorce/separation holiday season, you might feel particularly anxious about it, and probably feel pressured to prove your resilience and strength to your friends and family. However, you must get rid of unrealistic expectations and focus on helping your children heal and focus on the future. The less you focus on achieving perfection, the more effective you will be as a co-parent now and during any other time of the year. Your holiday schedule can be customized for what is best for your family. I can help you customize your parenting schedule and it can be made an order of the court.
Tips to Help You Navigate the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
Generally, many holiday visitation schedules allow co-parents to alternate between holidays. For example, you might have the kids for Thanksgiving one year while your co-parent has them for Christmas that same year. The following year, you might swap holidays. Although this may be a fair arrangement, it can feel a little lonely, especially since you were previously accustomed to having the children with you at all times. I always like to help clients customize exactly what works best for their family. Maybe Dad has the kids Christmas Eve if that is important to him and then mom picks up the kids at 9 a.m. for Christmas Day. Maybe they both want to share Thanksgiving…. Days can be divided and shared.
Although coping with the absence of your children during the holidays can be challenging, it is crucial for both of you to support one another’s time with the children, regardless of your feelings for one another. Making your children feel guilty for the time they are spending with their other parent will only harm them. If you are having trouble coping with these changes, reach out to a friend, family member or professional to discuss your feelings. You might even consider therapy or counseling.
Consider these additional tips as you co-parent your way through the holidays this year:
- Put your kids’ needs first: You and your co-parent probably have a lot of ideas about what you want the holiday season to look like. Unfortunately, if both of you plan for too many activities, you will leave your children feeling exhausted. Focus more on quality bonding time rather than on trying to squeeze in as many activities as possible.
- When possible, try to be flexible: There is a difference between being flexible and accommodating your co-parent’s every wish. If your co-parent wants to spend a day with the children and you do not have anything planned, consider swapping days. However, if you already have something planned, you do not have to cancel them on your co-parent’s behalf.
- Get some rest and take a breath: Do not underestimate your need for rest during the holidays. Between holiday shopping, work, and trying to plan fun winter activities for the kids, it might feel like you have little to no time to breathe. However, it is crucial to take some time for yourself. On the days when your children are not with you, do something for yourself, even if all you have time for is a nap or a hot bath. Everyone needs time to recharge. Exercise and sleep are important. Sometimes we need to say “no” to too many activities.
The holidays do not have to be perfect for you and your family to enjoy them. Let your children know that it is okay to feel sad about the divorce/separation and help them process their emotions, so they can enjoy the winter break.
Reach Out to a Compassionate Family Law Attorney
If you encounter any family law issues this holiday season, turn to The Law Offices of Andrea Schneider for the experienced and insightful guidance you need to achieve the best possible resolution. Co-parenting in the aftermath of a divorce is often difficult and the stress of the holiday season often amplifies these problems, so do not hesitate to secure skilled legal counsel.
Contact us today at (619) 304-8499 for a case review.