Whether your divorce is still pending or you've already made it through the process, the first holiday season after your split with your spouse can be rough.
It may be even rougher on the kids.
You and your co-parent both (presumably) want this holiday season to retain all its magic and wonder for your children. If so, then you'll need to work on a plan to ensure things end up as intended.
5 ways to keep the holidays bright and merry when you're divorced
There are basically five major steps you can take right now to help your kids adjust to the changes in your family's holiday routines:
- Communicate and coordinate with your co-parent: You need a plan for the holidays. If you have a parenting plan, it's time to review the holiday schedule and start negotiating any changes you want to make to accommodate grandparents, special events and the like. The earlier you begin this process, the better.
- Talk to your kids about what to expect: Yes, things will look a bit different this year, but your children can adjust better to the shifts when they know what to expect. Help them understand the holiday schedule so that they aren't in the dark about the plans.
- Encourage your children to enjoy themselves: Your kids may feel guilty leaving you home alone on Christmas Eve to spend time with their other parent — and just as bad leaving their other parent alone on Christmas Day to be with you. You and your co-parent both need to reassure the kids that everybody is fine and it's okay to be excited and happy.
- Be flexible and unobtrusive: If your co-parent calls and begs for an extra hour with the kids so they can see grandma, give up the hour. (You can remind your co-parent of this the next time you need a slight shift in the custody schedule.)
- Don't be nosey: When the kids do get home, don't ask a lot of probing questions about what their other parent looks like, what was said or what they did. You may make them feel awkward or defensive, and that's not the holiday memory you want them to have.
Custody conflicts sometimes bubble up during the holidays. If necessary, you may need to take legal action to resolve them.