If you spent the summer helping your children adapt to a new lifestyle after your divorce, you are definitely not alone. Many Illinois parents have faced similar issues this year. Hopefully, as challenges arise, you and your kids are learning to overcome them together. You likely have good days and bad days, which, of course, is typical for married life as well. As you prepare for your first holiday season as a single parent, you may want to keep a few tips in mind to avoid major stress factors.
It's true that your holidays won't be the same as they were when you were all living under one roof as a family. That doesn't mean, however, that you can't enjoy Thanksgiving, Christmas, Kwanzaa or whatever special occasions you like to celebrate. The key is to lay a solid game plan ahead of time and to know where to turn for support in a pinch, if needed.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as they say
The last thing you need is to be basting your turkey, with holiday music playing in the background and children lying on the floor playing board games (You know, the ones they only take down out of the closet on such occasions!) only to be interrupted with a disagreeable phone call from your former spouse regarding where the kids will be spending Christmas or whose turn it is to take them holiday shopping. The following list includes helpful tips that may keep your holiday stress to a minimum:
- You likely already went through several negotiation sessions when you developed a new parenting plan during divorce proceedings. However, if you neglected to include specifics regarding holidays and special events, you may want to return to the negotiation table to get it all in writing. (Of course, if you already have an existing court order, any new plan would require the court's approval.)
- When developing a holiday plan, you can customize it as needed. The point is to get all proposed celebrations on a calendar and make sure everyone involved understands and agrees to the terms of the plan. There should be no question as to who gets the kids for which holidays if it's all spelled out in writing.
- The first holiday season post divorce can be emotional for you and your children. It's typically a good idea to try to incorporate some new traditions that encourage a festive and joyful atmosphere. Getting divorced need not mean you can't build new, lasting memories together. Your holidays may be different from those in the past, but can still be enjoyable, and perhaps, even better.
- Knowing that you may hit a few bumps in the road (and that's okay) can help you overcome problems as they arise. So too, knowing how to access quick support can mean the difference between a ruined holiday season and a temporary setback.
What works for one Illinois family may not be a viable option for another. For instance, if you and your former spouse get along well, you may choose to spend holidays together with your children. If you can barely speak to each other without fighting, then that's probably not a great idea.
Either way, if you run into trouble regarding your existing court order or some other custody or visitation issue, taking swift action to rectify the problem may help you minimize the negative consequences of the situation.