The holiday season is upon us, and if you are going through a divorce, or it is your first holiday season since your divorce was finalized, you are probably apprehensive and nervous about how you are going to work out a schedule for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. You can make a holiday schedule work, so long as you keep in mind that your children probably want to spend time with both mom and dad. Therefore, here are some helpful tips on how to make holiday schedules manageable:
1. Talk To Your Kids- If your kids are old enough to make a decision about what they would like to do for the holidays and you haven't already agreed to a schedule with your ex, ask your kids what they would like to do. If they want to spend time with both mom and dad, try to work out a schedule that allows your kids to have equal time with both parents. Most kids want to spend time with both parents during the holidays and its important to take their feelings and wants into consideration before a holiday schedule gets set.
2. Consider Celebrating the Holidays Together- This is a touchy subject for most people going through a divorce. However, if you have young children, they could very well benefit from having you both present for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day activities. While they will have to adjust to new traditions in the future, if you and your ex-spouse can put differences aside to give your children a stress-free holiday without too much uncomfortableness, you can celebrate together.
3. Make Plans Ahead of Time- Don't want to the last minute to get a schedule in place. Discuss options as a family and make decisions well in advance so there is no question as to where the kids are going to be on the holidays. Many people put this off because its too difficult or they feel that there is no need to discuss because its "in the Marital Settlement Agreement" or in the Judge's divorce decree. Its still important to nail down specifics, especially if out of town travel arrangements need to be made.
4. Make Plans for Yourself- If you know that its not your year to have the kids on Christmas or Thanksgiving, you need to make plans for yourself and do whatever you need to do in order to insure that you are not going to be alone. Spending the holidays by yourself can be very depressing, so if you have made plans for yourself, you will spend less time thinking about the fact that your kids aren't with you.
5. Be Flexible- The best thing you can do for your kids and to insure that every holiday doesn't become a scheduling mess is to be flexible. Part of co-parenting after divorce is being flexible with schedules and coming to terms with the fact that you aren't always going to get what you want, especially around the holidays. Also, you don't always have to celebrate a holiday on the holiday in order to make it special and meaningful for your children. If you have a parenting plan that has you alternating holidays, you can help your kids understand and appreciate the benefits of having Two Christmases, Two Easters, etc.
For more information about dealing with the holidays, see: http://www.divorcenet.com/states/nationwide/holiday_tips