The holidays can stressful, especially after a divorce. Learning how to co-parent in the best way for your family, plus maintaining the holiday spirit for your children can be overwhelming. It is easy to lose track of your needs during the holidays and lose track of your emotions. Self-care is crucial to maintaining your well being during the holidays. Below are some tips to help you navigate the holidays with a co-parent without losing your mind.
Take time to plan with your co-parent and set expectations early.
Taking the time to go over schedules, gifts, and sharing expenses with your co-parent will relieve some of the stress of the unknown. Starting to plan early will leave time to discuss areas of disagreement and come to compromises. Setting expectations with your co-parent about your needs and wishes for your children during the holiday season can ensure you’re both on the same page for what the holidays will look like at both households. When children ask you about the holidays at your co-parent’s house, it will be reassuring to your children that you know what’s going on and can talk with them about it. There are lots of online resources that go over strategies for working with your co-parent through the holidays. such as this, this, and this. Or if you need help creating a parenting schedule, an attorney would be happy to help.
Plan a budget and discuss it with your co-parent.
After divorce, financial situations for both parents can change. It can be helpful for both parents to discuss gifts prior to the holidays. Discuss the option of buying joint gifts or look into coordinating gifts of similar value. If there are additional holiday expenses, like school events or old family traditions you want to preserve, discuss splitting the costs of these activities with your co-parent. Reducing stress associated with the cost of the holidays by planning out a holiday budget will give you the ability to focus on the more fun aspects of the holiday season.
Consider your favorite parts of the holidays.
What do you like to do during the holiday season? Take some time to think about activities you like to do or have always wanted to incorporate into how you celebrate the holidays. If it’s something you would enjoy doing with your children, try to start a new holiday tradition, which can help with the transition of divorce. If it’s something you would prefer to do alone, try to schedule it during the time your co-parent is having parenting time. Make sure you are taking consideration of your needs during the holiday season and do activities you enjoy.
Consider the feelings of your co-parent.
Remember the holidays are stressful on everyone. You will both be likely feeling the same emotions during the holidays, even if you don’t express them in the same way. Try to forgive your co-parent if they are not following the plans and expectations you set earlier. Try to communicate respectfully and be reasonable throughout the season. If you’re doing an activity you know the co-parent likes, maybe invite them to participate. Having the children make your co-parent a gift or holiday decoration could be a nice way to show your co-parent you’re thinking about their emotions, and show your children that your co-parent is still important in all your lives. The less resentment and frustration you hold on to during the holidays, the more you’ll be able to enjoy the time with your family.
Be gentle with yourself.
Transitioning after a divorce is difficult. With the added pressure of the holidays, be forgiving of your ability to do “everything.” You don’t have to attend all the holiday parties and events, if you don’t want to. Try to take some time to relax and do something you enjoy. When your children spend time with your co-parent, you may feel lonely. Spend time with other family members or friends. You could also take the time to volunteer. Giving back will help give you a sense of purpose and connection, and it will help those in need.
No matter how you navigate the holidays with your family, be sure to keep in mind your well being so you’re able to best provide for your family during the season. Try not to be overwhelmed by all the pressures and expectations that come along with the holiday season.
Morneau Law is located in downtown Nashua within walking distance of the Nashua Family Court. Please call us at 943-5647 and we will be happy to set up a consultation to help you create an action plan for the holidays.