There is no better time to practice putting your children first than during the holiday season. Whether you are separating, divorced, or working on a parenting plan, the holidays should be about your children. As your family becomes two families, there are times when you will not have the children for each of the upcoming holidays. It is crucial that you encourage your children to embrace the holiday, enjoy family and spending time with the other parent. The holiday season is a time of year that people of all ages look forward to celebrating. With the right amount of cooperation, parents can navigate this season without conflict over how the children will be spending these special days. Here are some helpful tips meant to navigate parents through the holidays by placing the children first.
The holidays are a time to be grateful and giving. This is an opportunity to be courteous to the other parent and to set this example for your children. Children are watching their parents’ every move and will follow your lead on how you handle situations with your co-parent. Make sure that every interaction your children witness is one where kindness and considerateness prevail. This will help shape the holiday season as one of compromise and not of conflict.
The holidays are a time to celebrate, but after separation, the traditions of what once were can be a stinging reminder of the shift in your family dynamic. Although it may be easy to mourn the traditions that once were, as a parent it is important to rise above that feeling, embrace the old traditions and make new ones. Parents can create a new tradition by decorating their home for the holidays with their children during parenting time, having a movie marathon night celebrating the holidays, or gathering a group of friends to go see the holiday lights. The holidays are such a time lush with sentiment. Be creative in your new approach to the holidays by looking forward to baking cookies, grabbing coffee and holiday shopping, visiting friends and family, or listening to holiday songs. By creating new traditions, you are creating a new family dynamic and helping your children.
It is also very important to make sure you are open to hearing what your children would like to carry forward from past traditions and how they are managing the changes as well. Guide them through a new type of holiday by creating a mix of embracing old traditions and creating new ones.
After a separation or divorce, holiday traditions and schedules will likely have to change. Parents must remember that children thrive on schedules, and as the excitement grows for the holidays, the children will want to know the plan. Make sure to coordinate far in advance on how the holiday schedule will work so the children are not left wondering where they will be spending their time. Communicate with your children on how the holidays will be spent to prepare them for the transition between homes or not celebrating as a two-parent family. Coordinating far in advance will also help to eliminate any potential conflict born from the stress that the holidays bring. Communicate with friends and extended family to prepare yourself for not having the children on one or more of the holidays so you are not left focusing on not celebrating with your children.
Remember to be flexible during this time. School-age children often have much longer than just the holiday off from school, and this long time off can place a strain on working parents’ schedules. If possible, collaborate together to make sure that the holiday school breaks have the children in the best place for them possible. Get a schedule in place but remember to be flexible as things arise on your schedule, the children’s schedules and the other parents. If you have a parenting plan, consult it as you work with your co-parent to navigate the holiday break. If you do not yet have a parenting plan, co-parent communication is key to surviving the holiday break parenting schedule.
Need help navigating a co-parenting schedule for the holidays? We're here to help, contact The Harris Law Firm today.