6 Ways Divorced Parents Can Prepare for the Holidays
How Divorced Parents Can Make Their Spirits Brighter
The holiday season is a time for family and friends to get together a celebrate the “most wonderful time of year.” However, divorced parents and their children may experience the holidays differently than others. Typically, parents with joint physical custody formulate and adhere to a parenting schedule that outlines when, where, and how long they can spend time with their children. The parenting schedule should account for school breaks and holidays, too.
Unless a divorced couple mutually agrees to set aside their differences and celebrate the holidays together for their children’s sake, chances are, the children will spend the holidays with one parent. As a result, the other parent will be by themselves. If you are in this position, know that you are not alone. Considering that the US has a divorce rate of about 782,038, thousands of parents are in your shoes and feeling the way you feel.
With this in mind, our Fort Worth family lawyer describes 6 tips for divorced parents to consider as they navigate the holiday season without their children:
Establish a parenting schedule
Although a divorce is a dissolution of marriage, it is still a partnership if children are involved. Your children depend on you and your ex-spouse to keep open lines of communication with each other and discuss how to address any issues that may arise during the holidays. By making a holiday parenting plan, you and your ex can clearly outline your expectations and consider integrating options into your plan, such as splitting parenting time on the actual holiday or assigning specific holidays to each parent for certain years.
Gather with friends and family
Even though you don’t have custody of your children during the holidays, you do have family and friends who love and support you. You may be feeling sad, anxious, or overwhelmed, so consider hosting a holiday celebration with those who are near and dear to you to spend quality time with them and get your mind off of who is not there. Spending time with family and friends can serve as a powerful reminder that you are not alone, even if you feel like it.
Self-care is the best care. Take the time to be kind and gentle to yourself when you need it most by doing things that make you happy. For instance, you could sleep-in, cook yourself a nice meal, read a good book, exercise, go shopping, indulge in your favorite dessert, and cozy up with a cup of hot cocoa and watch a movie. The options are endless. There are countless ways to care for your mental, physical, and emotional health, and whatever you decide, just know that our attorney is routing for you.
Contact other divorced parents
As mentioned above, nearly 800,000 people in the US are divorced, so why not spend time with people who are in your exact position? Not only could it benefit you but also the divorced parents whom you gather with. Don’t forget that one or more divorced parents may be in your friend group or family. As such, you can relate to each other in ways that many people cannot, and may find comfort and reassurance in knowing that other people are struggling like you.
Recognize and honor your children’s feelings
If the holidays are hard for you, just imagine how your children may be feeling. They could be sad, angry, and confused knowing that their holiday celebration doesn’t look like what they see on TV and from their peers. Your kids may be upset that their friends and other family members get to share the holidays with both parents around while they do not. As such, be compassionate to their circumstances and validate their feelings. Instead of saying “At least you get two celebrations,” consider shifting the narrative to “I understand that you are feeling sad about not seeing your mom this year” or “How can I help make this holiday special for you despite the circumstances?”
Create new holiday traditions
A divorce may disrupt the holiday traditions you and your ex once had, meaning your children are probably feeling the burden of this change, too. As such, it may help you and your children to brainstorm new, meaningful holiday traditions that are special and unique to your individual relationship with them. If you think about it, you probably wouldn’t have thought of creating such personalized traditions pre-divorce, therefore you could consider this a positive outcome of your post-divorce holiday celebrations. Some examples of new holiday traditions you and your children can try include cooking up a special holiday dish, volunteering at a local soup kitchen, visiting relatives on your side of the family, making DIY ornaments and gingerbread houses, and watching a movie together.
Need to Talk? You Know Who to Call.
If you are seeking legal advice on how to best coordinate the holiday season to protect the best interests of you, your ex, and your children, please contact our Fort Worth family lawyer at (817) 435-4970. We understand the pain and confusion you may be experiencing as you figure out how to handle the holidays without your kids, but you may have legal options that we can collaborate on during your complimentary consultation. We look forward to hearing from you!