The holidays are often a stressful time of year. It can involve end-of-the-year deadlines at work, or it may be additional demands on your time because of social and family obligations. Even the forced cheer in the stores, on television and just about everywhere else can be overpowering. This is especially so for newly divorced parents when they try to navigate their holiday parenting schedule and other arrangements outlined in the separation or divorce agreement.
While it may have all looked good on paper, reality sets in, and it’s unlikely that everything will go exactly according to plan.
5 Strategies for surviving
Here are some ideas for making the holidays more pleasurable for everyone:
- Ask the kids: Ideally, the parents did this before the season, but things change. So, ask them how they want to spend their holiday time. It can lead to new family traditions like going to the movies, eating pizza or whatever they want to do.
- Be flexible: Some divorced parents may have a long list of activities, but unexpected guests may show up, or something else derails the initial plan. Rather than get stressed about it, go with the flow and improvise.
- Share the holiday: Parents can either spend part of the day together or get some time alone with the kids. It will help the family’s transition if they do not spend most of the day in the car going from event to event.
- Expand the holiday: Sometimes Christmas can be when you say it is, particularly if there are travel plans. The kids may like the idea of celebrating two Christmases.
- Coordinate gifts: Parents should have guidelines and discuss purchases ahead of time. It is also good to put both names on high-value items. It shows a unified front to the kids and can avoid competitive gift-giving.
Get it in writing
These and other strategies can ease the children’s worries about how the family will work in the future. Nevertheless, it is essential to have official arrangements regarding visitation and alternating holidays in writing. An experienced Texas Board-Certified Family Law expert attorney can work with their clients to write down or update the holiday arrangements. It provides a strong foundation even if the parents later find that they need to adapt in the moment.