The holidays are upon us and for most it is a joyful time of year filled with love and traditions. However, many parents and children may be new to navigating through family changes and holidays after divorce or separation. Some newly divorced or separated families are able to maintain great relationships with one another and keep family traditions going, while others struggle to get in the holiday spirit. Regardless of the situation, it is always important to create a sense of normalcy for the children that are involved.
Children can be creatures of habit, so when it comes to the holidays, they are more than likely used to the same routine every year and looking forward to that tradition. The following are some suggestions for parents that are new to divorce to help keep the holidays a joyous time for their children:
- Try not to overload your children’s schedules. It is more important that they get to spend quality time with each parent (rather than every member of the extended family). Choose one parent to have the children on the holiday and the other parent can spend time with them on a day surrounding the holiday. Alternatively, share large blocks of time with the children during the holiday (i.e. wake-up through lunch with one parent, and dinner and evening routines with the other parent).
- Plan ahead so the children know what to expect and have a routine to look forward to.
- If, as parents, you are able to get along with one another without any added stress, then spending the day (or just the morning opening gifts) together can be great for the children so long as there is the understanding that it’s nothing more than just that.
- Make an effort to keep traditions alive. Children look forward to traditions and they help create security, so do your best to keep them going. Remember, it can be difficult – if not impossible – to maintain ALL of the holiday traditions your children are familiar with. Involve your children in creating new traditions to enjoy during the holidays.
- Remind yourself that this is not a competition to see which parent can create the most fun or buy the most/best gifts. Keep things civil and non-competitive.
- Refrain from pestering your children with multiple questions about what they did with the other parent. Let them have their time and leave it at that.
While divorce is not always easy, there are ways to make family transitions less stressful and more enjoyable for everyone involved. The children should be the main focus and it is important to attempt to maintain routines and family traditions, new and old. Don’t set the bar too high and expect everything to be perfect because that will only create more stress for you, and remember to try and enjoy yourself as well this holiday season.
From everyone here at Patricia S. Fernandez & Associates, we wish you and your family a happy holiday season!