Making plans for the holiday season

The holiday season can be a difficult time for parents who are separating or who have separated. At a time of year when traditions are so important it’s hard to imagine how to create new traditions that preserve those key ingredients of family time and magical moments. There is no right answer as to how to do this. But, if you can remain focused on your child’s happiness, during this time, then that is the best place to start. Here are a few things to consider as you make plans for the holiday season.

Things to Consider

  • Who will the children be with and when?

    Plan your holiday schedule as far in advance as possible so that everyone knows what is happening, most importantly so your children know what to expect. Often, parents tend to split the days between the two homes. For example, the children start at one parent’s home for Christmas Eve and stay for Christmas morning. Then they spend the afternoon of Christmas day and Boxing Day with the other parent. Typically, this kind of schedule is alternated every year.
    When determining your holiday schedule do not ask your children to choose. This can put them in a difficult position of feeling like they have to choose one parent over the other.

  • Should you all spend time together?

    This is something many separated couples contemplate. When trying to decide, be very realistic about how it will actually go. Don’t have false hopes that just because it’s Christmas you’ll magically be able to be amicable with your ex. Sometimes separated couples try to spend the holidays together with the children in an attempt to uphold traditions. Depending on how much time has passed and how amicable you are with your ex you may be able to accomplish this and enjoy each other’s company. However, the joy of those traditions are going to quickly go by the wayside if a conflict arises and that won’t be fun for anyone.

  • What about gifts?

    Sometimes gift giving can become a competition between exes. This can create a lot of tension, especially if one parent can’t keep up with what the other parent can afford. This also puts your children in the middle and they may actually feel guilty for liking one present better than the other. Discuss a budget ahead of time and stick to it. If you have older kids, who often ask for those higher ticket items, consider going in together on a gift.

  • What should you do when you don’t have your children?

    It’s important to find new traditions and new ways of celebrating the holidays. Spend time with your own parents, with siblings or with friends. Instead of focusing on what you’re missing focus on the opportunity to spend time with other important people in your life. Or, consider giving back and volunteering to serve a Christmas meal at a shelter. Your children would want to know that you’re happy even when they aren’t there.

When trying to make these important plans with your ex think about how you want your children to look back and remember this Christmas. That will help guide you toward making decisions that will leave all of you with good memories.

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