After a difficult divorce, trying to be peaceful through the holidays can seem impossible. However, with the right preparation and mutual respect, newly divorced parents can get through this season while keeping their children happy.
Here are six tips for getting through the first holiday season after divorce.
1. Start talking early
It may be awkward or contentious to talk to your ex but sitting down and having a conversation now can avoid any tension surrounding the holidays.
2. Consult the parenting plan
If your child custody plan addressed holidays when it was created, this should hopefully be an easy step. If not, consider what the rest of the year looks like for the parenting plan and use it to help create a holiday schedule. And as you’re discussing the winter holidays now, consider using this as an opportunity to plan the whole calendar year of holidays.
3. Consider tradition, but don’t be attached to it
Your immediate family celebration will likely have to change, but if you and your ex feel you are in a situation where you can still celebrate with your children together, consider putting aside any awkwardness to give that to your children.
This is, of course, easier said than done. If this isn’t possible, make sure the holiday schedule allows each parent to celebrate the season with just their family unit of children.
4. Remember the grandparents
There are likely several family gatherings you and your ex attended with your children while you were married. If you can find a way to build your holiday plan so that your children can still attend these events, it will help keep the peace and likely make their grandparents very happy.
5. Discuss how to handle gifts
No one wants to be stuck as the parent who didn’t give their children an awesome present. Are you and your ex able to pool your money and buy gifts together? Are there some special gifts one parent can give, and the other parent can give another? Ask these questions of each other now to avoid favoritism arguments or making things tenser for your children.
6. Be patient – with your ex and yourself
The first holiday season after a divorce is hard – there’s no way to shake that. It is just as hard for your ex as it is for you, so try to be patient with them and their emotions. If you treat their feelings with respect, they are likely to reciprocate. It may be difficult, but it will be helpful for you both – and for your children – to have as happy of a holiday season as you can after a rough year.