Divorce is not something that couples always handle well. Tensions run high, especially when there are custody issues. The holidays are generally a happy time of the year, but for those in the midst of a divorce, it can make an already stressful situation worse. How can divorced or divorcing parents get through the holiday season with shared custody?
You may have a solid co-parenting plan and shared custody arrangement in place, or you may just be getting started with your divorce. In either case, it is a good idea to think about ways you can handle visitation throughout the holiday season.
1. Get a good plan
Depending on where you are in the process, you should have a holiday custody arrangement in place. The plan may be something negotiated on your behalf before the divorce finalizes or it may be a parenting plan adopted by the final divorce decree. Either way, the more specific your plan, the better it will be to get through the season without scheduling woes.
2. Set reasonable expectations
If this is your first holiday season with two households, expect your children to have big feelings. They may not be able to express them in an ideal way or at all; however, they may feel a sense of loss, sadness and overall despair. Allow your children to express their feelings in a healthy way without interjecting your reasons for the divorce or attacking the other parent.
3. Start something new
Think of some new traditions to start with your children. Rather than trying to recreate memories from the past, come up with fun ways you can celebrate that are exciting and different. Maybe suggest you start a Secret Santa gift exchange with your family or come up with alternate ways to do gift exchanges.
Whatever stage of the co-parenting process you are in, preparing for the holiday season is a good idea. Making sure your children can express their feelings, setting up a schedule that works and starting some new traditions may help all of you get through this stressful time.