Divorce is a state of upheaval. The path of partnership that two people once believed would carry them into a life of happiness and love comes upon a fork in that path that splits them up and sends them both into an unknown future. If children are involved, it becomes a delicate balance of moving on with your life while still maintaining a relationship with your ex.
During the holidays, trying to maintain a festive atmosphere in your home and with your children can be a challenge–especially if you and your children are experiencing your first holiday season post-divorce. It is critical that you and your ex work together to provide an environment that is peaceful and productive for your children. Although working together to achieve a common goal may no longer be a shared vision for you and your ex, it is a necessity to ensure that you are giving your children the best chance at normalcy and happiness. Here is a short list of things to think about when preparing your holiday visitation plans that can make the transition a little smoother for your children (and for you).
Establish a game plan with your ex. Set up your holiday schedule in advance. Make a calendar for your child (one in each home) so they can look at the days ahead and mark them accordingly: holiday dinners, travel plans and more can be put on paper and kept track of. Children like to feel involved in their own lives, and sharing the logistics of the holidays with them can make them feel better about a foreign situation.
Exercise patience. Give your child a little leeway to express themselves. Visitation schedules are a part of divorce, and be mindful of how this affects their attitudes and actions. Allow your children the opportunity for extra phone calls to their other parent if they feel the need to reach out. Let your children feel comfortable communicating openly about how they feel and when they want to reach, let them.
Remember to stay positive. Children are very in tune to how their parents react and respond to emotional situations, and take their cues from your example. Make sure you are aware of this, and do what you can to provide them with all the positivity you can, especially during the holidays.
Divorce is difficult enough as it is for children whose parents are no longer together. Do what you can as an adult to help your children celebrate the holidays in a festive way while continuing to focus on your personal happiness as well. Your marriage may be over, but raising your children is still a team effort.