No doubt about it – divorce is difficult as it is. And during the holidays, it can be downright brutal. Especially when you have kids who need you.
If you’re divorced, it’s likely you already have a custody and parenting time arrangement spelled out in your divorce agreement.
If you’re separated, you can have your lawyer draft up a custody and parenting time agreement.
In any case, it’s important for kids that you and your ex lay out even a general plan for where and how the kids will spend the holidays. Below are 4 important tips for navigating the holidays with kids when you’re separated or divorced:
1. Stick to tradition as much as possible.
For example, if you typically hosted Christmas dinner, you might consider continuing this tradition and keeping a home-base for your children. One option might be having your children spend the main holiday meal with one parent and share dessert or brunch with the other parent. Or if your ex’s family traditionally hosts Christmas Eve dinner and yours typically hosts Christmas Day, you can arrange for the kids to continue to share the holidays the same way.
2. Don’t leave holiday plans up to the kids.
Depending on their ages, it can be a big burden for them. It’s common for kids to feel guilty leaving one parent alone. Therefore, it’s generally best if you and your ex together decide how the kids will spend the holidays. That would give them much needed structure and stability, especially in the midst of this family transition.
3. Allocate time during the holiday school break.
School-age kids are typically off from school from just before Christmas until just after New Year’s Day. During this time, you and your ex might each plan special outings or activities on allocated days.
4. Divide the holidays up into parts.
For instance, you and your ex can decide where and how the kids will spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and New Years’ Eve and New Years’ Day. Or allocate certain hours of the day or evening for each parent. Same idea if one or both parents celebrates Hanukkah.
Another alternative is to allocate holiday time by alternating holidays each year. For example, the kids might celebrate certain holidays with one parent this year, and the other parent next year.
The bottom line is that when it comes to divorce and navigating the holidays with kids, consistency is key. Communication is essential. And stability is necessary.
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