If you’re a separated or divorced parent facing your first holiday season with shared parenting time, you’re likely dealing with more than the usual pre-holiday stress. You also may be dreading the fact that you’re going to be without your kids on at least one holiday over the next few months. That could be Halloween, Thanksgiving, the first night of Hanukkah, Christmas or New Year’s.
The important thing is that your kids know where they’ll be celebrating the upcoming holidays. Having certainty around holiday plans helps them join in when their friends and classmates talk about what they’ll be doing. It also gives them reassurance that they’re parents are working together even though they’re living apart.
Scheduling is crucial
If you already have your custody agreement in place, it should address where your children will spend all major holidays – as well as any that are important to them (like their birthday). If you haven’t yet finished working out your agreement, it’s probably wise to put something in writing that will cover at least the remainder of the year.
Making new traditions
A big adjustment for many divorced parents is finding ways to celebrate the holidays with their kids even when they’re not together on these days. There are plenty of things you can do before and after the holidays, like decorating, baking, having special dinners, going to holiday concerts and more. Most kids don’t mind extending any holiday celebration over a few days or longer.
Making plans for yourself
Parents who don’t have their kids on a holiday often don’t know what to do with themselves. That can lead them to dread the holiday, which can leave kids feeling guilty that their parent is alone. No child should feel bad for not being with a parent on a holiday. By having your own plans – whether it involves spending time with family or friends, volunteering or just having some alone time – you can help your kids enjoy their time with their other parent.
Whether you’ve just separated or you’re already in the process of divorce, having sound legal guidance can help you codify a holiday schedule that will help you avoid conflict and confusion with your co-parent and help your kids look forward to the days ahead.