The holidays are meant to be a joyous and loving time spent with family and friends. However, disputes between divorced or separated parents can make this time a nightmare for their children. Here are some tips to ease the tension between you and your ex and keep the holidays happy for your children.
If this is your first year separated, let your kids know that things will be different this year. Have a talk with them and explain the new plans. It may be difficult to talk to your kids about this, but it’s better than leaving them wondering what’s going on.
Your goal should be to keep them happy and stress free, and being honest with them is the best way to do that. Show them that change can be a good thing, and use this as an opportunity to create new traditions and memories.
Communicating with your ex and making a plan that works for both of you allows you to schedule ahead of time when the kids will be with each of you. The more detailed the plan the better, because you want to avoid last minute confusion and arguments over time with the children.
Remember, you both should be putting the kids’ best interests first, so it’s crucial to make the schedule fit their needs as well. The last thing you want is your children having to make a choice between who they want to spend the holidays with.
The children may be happy to be getting double the gifts, but they don’t want two of the same. Planning your gifts with your former spouse helps avoid not only repeating gifts, but also arguments with your ex over the price of gifts or the type of gifts you both give. You don’t want to show up your ex by giving overly expensive gifts – remember, they are still the parent of your child, and you want to help them preserve a good relationship with each other.
Compromise is something that you have to do at all times as a co-parent, but it is especially important around the holidays. You want to show your children that you and your ex put them first and can be adults. If you are the one who normally spends most of the time with the kids, you may want to consider letting your ex have more holiday time with them.
If it’s possible, you and your ex may want to consider spending the holidays together with the children to show them that while there may be two homes now, you are still one family. Of course, this is not always possible in every circumstance, but being compromising whenever possible sets a good example for your children and shows that there is still care for one another.
It is easy to get caught up in all the stress, planning, and gift buying over the holidays. Don’t be too hard on yourself, because it is important to keep yourself in a positive mindset. Try to relax, and even get yourself a gift! Taking care of yourself is the first step to being a good parent and taking care of your children.