The holidays can be a stressful time for you, but when you are divorced and must share custody with the other parent, they can be particularly tense. Even in the most amiable separations, the holidays can add a layer of stress to your relationship with your children, as well as your interactions with the other parent.Putting parental tension onto children of divorce is unfair, particularly during holidays. As you and the other parent work out a shared custody schedule for your children, remember that holidays are for making positive memories and preserving traditions.There is no single holiday schedule that will work for each family. The ages of your children, past traditions, religious beliefs and extended family involvement all contribute to a unique holiday schedule that you and the other parent must negotiate. Make adjustments to fit your particular circumstances. For example, a holiday schedule for toddlers and preschoolers will work differently than one for older children or teens.The important thing to keep in mind is that as parents, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your children enjoy the holidays and that you and the other parent can work together in relative peace through January.
To make sure the tension of co-parenting doesn’t take away all the happiness of the holiday season, here are 8 tips to keep in mind as the holidays approach:
Know the schedule as well as possible. When everyone knows what will happen and when, there is less chance of miscommunication and resentment. Discuss the upcoming season with your children and the other parent to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Be on time with pick-ups, drop-offs and any other scheduled event, such as phone calls when your children are with the other parent. Lateness and missed exchanges have a snowball effect and can sometimes disrupt several days’ worth of planning.
Communicate with the other parent, whether it’s phone calls, email or texting. The holiday season is full of surprises, so keep in touch to ensure each of you is up to speed. Work out the little things, like coordinating gifts for friends or teachers, to big things, such as an extended family party, so that as things change, you are both aware.
Focus on staying positive and upbeat. If you are full of tension and frustration, it will affect how you interact with the children and how you approach the holiday season. Concentrate on the time you do have with your children to build memories rather than what you are missing when they are absent. Make it all about high quality holiday celebrations rather than the quantity of days you have.
Avoid saying anything negative about the other parent or how your children spend time with that parent. Don’t allow extended family members to be negative about the other parent in the presence of your children, either.
Maintain past traditions for your children to reassure them of your identity as a family and to remind them of their heritage. Both adults and children enjoy experiencing familiar traditions as part of the holidays, and focusing on meaningful events can keep children focused on what things remained the same after divorce rather than what has changed.
Mix new traditions with old to create new memories with your children. Try a few different things during the holiday season to lay a new foundation for how holidays will be celebrated now that you are divorced. Especially as your children age, they might enjoy giving input into new holiday celebrations that are more age appropriate.
Be flexible with your children’s wishes about the holidays. Children might express their desire to attend a holiday celebration that doesn’t fit in with your schedule, such as a friend’s party or an outing with grandparents. While children shouldn’t dictate the holiday schedule, you may find that by focusing on their needs makes the holiday season easier for you and the other parent.
Remember that the children come first when it comes to celebrating the holidays, so put their needs first rather than cling to a strict schedule that denies them some of the joys of the season. When you and the other parent work together to make the holiday season magical for your children, you are expressing your love for them in ways that will stay with them for a lifetime.
Look to Custody X Change software for more tips on creating a clear shared custody schedule for young children. The color-coded calendar that you create is easy to read and can upload to most mobile devices. Whether you are creating a shared custody schedule for toddlers or one for pre-teens and teenagers, look to Custody X Change software for some of the most comprehensive schedule templates available.