The holiday season is here, and while this is a time of celebration and joy, for many families, it can also bring its share of headaches. Scheduling holiday time is challenging in its own right, but for parents who share holiday time under a custody arrangement, it can seem impossible to celebrate without conflict. Here are some strategies for enjoying the holidays with as little stress as possible:
1. Set a Schedule
Most school districts send out their holiday calendars at the beginning on each school year. Make sure that you and your child's parent each have a copy well in advance to allow ample time for planning. While the break from school is treat for your child, it can leave you scrambling to find childcare. Consult with your former spouse as to their schedule, and be clear as to locations, times and expectations as to how you'll be splitting the time, so everyone can plan accordingly.
2. Make New Traditions
Dividing holiday time may mean you'll have to change the way you celebrated holidays in the past. Use this as an opportunity to create new traditions with your child-- if you generally opened gifts Christmas morning, but that falls on the calendar during the other parent's time, make a special new tradition of gifts and leaving cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve instead. These new traditions will be special memories and will ease the transition from your old life into your new one.
3. Practice Kindness
We tend to feel more cheerful and generous during the holidays, so be sure to extend some of that to your ex. A little gesture can go a very long way toward keeping the peace, and something as simple as picking up a small gift for them may set a much brighter tone for you both. Remember that your child is watching, and the way you treat your former spouse is an example to them of how to gracefully handle a conflict.
The holidays bring a flurry of activities and events, so be sure to keep your child's parent informed as to any special happenings at your child's school or church. Even if you aren't comfortable sitting together at the Christmas play, don't deprive your child of the chance to look out and see two proud parents in the crowd instead of just one.
5. Remember the Reason
The holidays are not a time to compete with your ex or settle old scores. Forgive, forget, and focus on the joy of the season and remember that this is a magical time for your child. Be mindful of the things that make this time of year so special and you'll find that everyone has a much happier holiday.
The Bulger Firm wishes the happiest of holidays to you and yours. If you have questions on co-parenting and divorce, please call 904-608-3694 for a consultation with a family law attorney.