Four Tips to Survive the Holidays After Divorce
Even for the most happily married couples, the holidays can be fraught with conflict and compromise. It can be exponentially more complicated for divorced parents and their kids. Here are a few basic tips we offer to co-parenting clients:
1. Make a plan.
If you haven’t set a holiday schedule by the time you read this, do it now. Sit down with your ex and bring a calendar (and, if necessary, a neutral third party, like a professional mediator or trusted mutual friend) to figure out exactly how you’re going to divvy up the holiday break, right down to whether the kids are being picked up or dropped off, at what time, and the things they’ll need to pack. Also, go over the kids’ wish lists together with your ex to decide who’s going to buy what and, perhaps, even how much each of you will spend.
2. Focus on the kids.
What do you think your kids would really enjoy? It can be as simple as letting the kids call Mom on Christmas Eve or attend a special holiday event with Dad. But, while keeping the kids’ preferences in mind, know they don’t want the burden of choice. Kids don’t want to make decisions when they know it’s going to make one of their parents unhappy. What most kids crave is a predictable schedule that both parents seem happy with — even if that means putting on a brave face.
3. Create new traditions.
Your holiday celebrations may have changed post-divorce, but it doesn’t mean they can’t continue to be magical. Building new rituals is an important part of moving on. Your kids’ traditions are changing too, so get them involved with what you’re creating. And though it will be painful, be prepared to let go of some of the activities you used to do before the divorce.
4. Stay busy.
If you’re going to be on your own for the holidays, be prepared. Plan to celebrate with other family and friends, indulge in a quiet evening at home, or even volunteer at a homeless shelter, go on a trip or do something special for yourself.
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