Divorce never feels like a simple process, but around the holidays, it can feel even more complicated. After all, the holidays can feel overwhelming- even without any major changes in the family dynamics! The shift in holiday routines and traditions can be difficult to navigate, especially in a family with kids. Even though it can seem like a difficult task to make the holidays go smoothly after divorce, it’s possible to have a great holiday season with the right communication and planning!
Here are some helpful questions to think through this holiday season:
Presents? Gift giving can be one of the trickiest areas to navigate for newly divorced parents. Try to address this upfront- and without the kids being present- to keep the magic in the holiday season for your kids. Discuss what gifts are being purchased ahead of time, and how you both will split the finances of the holidays, if you are doing joint presents.
Should you celebrate together? Some divorced parents struggle with trying to decide if they should try to celebrate some shared holiday traditions together, even after the separation or divorce. Before committing to celebrating together, it is important to decide if it is possible for the celebration to stay happy without any major arguments or tension. If you decide that you’d like to celebrate together, have a conversation with your kids beforehand to avoid any unrealistic expectations of you getting back together. You can let them know that mom or dad is coming over to spend time with you, but that they are going back to their house afterwards. Set boundaries around the amount of time you will all spend together, and if extended family will be included in the joint celebrations as well.
How can you navigate changes in tradition? For many families, traditions that you do year after year are the cornerstone of the holidays. Try to avoid getting hung up on maintaining the traditions, and instead focus on creating a joyful holiday season for your kids. Talk to your kids about what rituals are most important for them to keep, and even some ideas about new traditions they may like to start doing. Have a cookie baking competition, find a new special movie to watch, or even a great volunteer opportunity to do together as a family! Don’t fall victim to the pressures of the holiday season…your holidays don’t have to look like everyone else’s!
Are you taking good care of yourself? The holidays are stressful for everyone, but can be especially stressful for parents trying to make the best celebration for their kids. Be kind to yourself this holiday season. Find time to spend with friends, give back to a special cause in the community, or even find a nice moment to relax with a festive baked good of your own!
Written by: Laura Lebovitz