Parenting is never simple, but the thought of enjoying Christmas and New Year holidays with kids after divorce can feel especially overwhelming.  You might not know how you are going to get through the time you spend with or without your children.  Here is advice for making the best of holidays with kids after divorce or separation.

Have the Right Attitude

Going into the season with the right attitude can make all the difference to Christmas, New Year or any other holidays with kids after divorce.

  • Put the kids first. The experts at Psychology Today recommend making it your top priority to allow your kids’ their celebration, even if they are celebrating with the other parent.  Encourage your children to enjoy themselves.
  • Make your own plans. If you are struggling to face a holiday without your kids, some experts advise making alternate plans.  Spend time with your extended family, plan a trip out of town, or schedule a special celebration with friends.  It is tough, but with the support of others, you can get through it.
  • Embrace the season. Remember that the holiday season is about giving, forgiveness and starting anew.  Let go of anger and resentment over the past and embrace gratitude for what you have now.
  • Put the gift of love first. Remember that what your kids need from you most of all is love.  Time, attention and emotionally engaging with them is the most important gift you can give them.  According to some experts this is the time to be sacrificial.  Compromise more than ever, give up your wants and needs, and don’t tell the kids you are doing it.  Show your children that life is going on and is good.
  • Don’t compete. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to compete with your ex, especially with material gifts.  If you both really want to be the one to give a particular gift, consider going in on it together.
  • Rituals and traditions. Embracing old traditions may be important to your kids, and establishing new ones can help you all move forward.  Do some of each.  The winter season offers plenty of opportunities to start new holiday traditions such as sipping hot cocoa by the fire, baking treats, or tapping into your adventurous side and giving ice skating or skiing a try.

Make arrangements for holidays with kids after divorce

Making arrangements can be especially tough during the holiday season but it’s important to think about them ahead of time.

  • To prevent miscommunication, engage your ex with brief conversations via email, phone or text about holiday arrangements and gifts. Make sure you coordinate plans and don’t duplicate gifts to avoid unnecessary arguments or disagreements.
  • Provide details. Plans should be exact.  Work out who, what, when and where.  It gives your children a sense of security and avoids disappointment and frustration for everyone.
  • Splitting the days. Some couples work out splitting up days for holiday events.  If you are trying to navigate a divided holiday, think through if it will be too chaotic for the children.  Perhaps you can alternate holidays, or compromise and celebrate the day before or after.
  • Your extended family. Communicate with your extended family about plans, whether it means changing things from the usual or needing help with arrangements.
  • Celebrate together. If your separation is fairly recent, consider a celebration with your ex and the kids together.  People outside your family may not understand but it doesn’t matter. It is up to the two of you how you to navigate through the holiday season.
  • Establish plans for next year. You may need to wait until after New Year’s, but discuss with your ex how the holidays might look next year.  This is especially important if figuring out this season was a struggle.  Don’t put off making plans.

Happy holidays.  Going through a separation or divorce is difficult enough, but facing the holidays. and the togetherness it is supposed to bring. can be tough on both you and kids.  Christmas and New Year holidays are always about family so, no matter what your family dynamic is, embrace the season and whatever it brings.  Acknowledge your sadness but give yourself something to look forward to. Make arrangements wisely and enjoy quality time spent together with your children, extended family and friends.

About the Author

Alexis Hall is a writer for Single Parent website, which aims to provide support and advice for single parent families out.

Getting Through Christmas and New Year Holidays with Kids After Divorce