Believe it or not, the holidays are here. Yes, it is a time of joy, love, and togetherness, but if you’re divorced and sharing custody of your children, the holidays can also be a time of sadness, anger, and strife. Christmas and co parenting takes strength and resolve.
I asked several women on the Round and Round Rosie Facebook page to share the advice that has helped them get through the holidays while dealing with shared custody, kids, and former spouses; real women who’ve been exactly where you are and have learned how to co-parent during the holidays
Here’s what they’ve learned to make this time a little bit easier.
1. Create new traditions.
You’ve got a new life, so create new traditions with your kids. It can create so much stress, both emotionally and financially to try and recreate what you had when you were married.
Be willing to create new traditions with your kids. Maybe you have Christmas dinner at noon. Maybe it’s a smaller tree, fewer presents or a casual Christmas day in pajamas. Don’t feel tied down by how you used to do things.
This can be an opportunity to create new traditions that define your life as a new family. You are divorced and a single parent but you are still a family.
2. Be flexible.
If you bend, you won’t break.
As one mom put it, “the world will not end if you don’t have your kids at Christmas dinner this year. Maybe the new tradition will be Christmas Eve dinner.”
Plans will probably change. Things won’t go as planned, they never do. If your kids are late from spending time with your ex, and you have to open presents later, try to go with the flow. Remember that you can make it less stressful for everyone, including yourself, by staying flexible.
3. Involve your kids in the decisions.
If your kids are old enough, ask them what holiday traditions matter to them. Maybe you’re stressing about keeping a tradition that doesn’t even matter to them. By involving them in the process, you’ll figure out what traditions matter to them, and help them feel more empowered during a time of change and powerlessness.
4. Show your kids that you are OK.
As one mom puts it, “show them that you’re ok (even if you have to fake it a little). They are kids and deserve Christmas to be wonderful.”
Put on a brave face and keep going. Cry and/or scream to a friend or family member after the kids have left your house. For one day at least, it’s all about their happiness.
5. Be respectful of your ex and his family.
In the true spirit of Christmas, be kind to your ex and his family. Sharing kids, juggling families and schedules is hard on everyone, your former in-laws included. Now is not the time to discuss parenting schedules or rehash who’s family is the craziest. If your ex tries to engage you in any drama, don’t engage. And if being kind is too hard because of past behavior and strain, keep your mouth shut and smile.
Now is not the time to discuss parenting schedules or rehash who’s family is the craziest. If your ex tries to engage you in any drama, don’t engage.
And if being kind is too hard because of past behavior and strain, keep your mouth shut, grit your teeth and smile.
6. Don’t try for perfect.
Things are going to go wrong. Forget any ideas of a perfect holiday. Divorce has a way of showing you what really matters and what really matters on Christmas is spending time with your children. And if that happens in a perfectly decorated house or having Christmas dinner at Taco Bell, you’ll still be together. And that’s the true blessing.
7. Remember it’s not about you, Christmas is for your kids.
Today is not about you. Or your ex. Or the past. Today is all about your kids. You are building their memories.
It’s all about their happiness and joy on Christmas.
I’m not saying that it won’t be tough for you, the Christmas carols, pictures of past Christmas’ together can be tough to handle without getting emotional. You’ll likely feel a whole spectrum of difficult emotions. That’s expected and normal. You’ll make it through. (And if you’re looking for more ways to handle the holidays, here’s a post with even more tips on coparenting during the holidays.)
And remember, December 26th will be here before you know it. Christmas and coparenting and all that drama will be over soon.
Happy Holidays & Merry Christmas ya’ll, stay strong.
Are we friends on Facebook? Join us on the Round and Round Rosie Facebook page and share what you’ve learned in your divorce (or just laugh at our silly memes. Your choice!)