There’s a lot to think about in planning your first holiday season such as Christmas with the children sharing their time between each parent’s home. This blog will go through my Top 3 Tips to help you get through the first holiday season.
Tip #1 – Create new traditions, or maintain some of the old ones
First thing in planning for the holidays is to create a holiday parenting schedule. For some families this is very easy, while for others it can be complicated and frought with conflict. The ealier that you make the holiday parenting schedule, the better you’ll be able to plan for how your holiday season will transpire.
There’s some value in looking at whether your split family is considering keeping any of the old traditions alive. Some families try to maintain a sense of togetherness for the 1st Christmas apart – scheduling some part of the Christmas celebration for mom, dad, and kids time together. For instance, there may be a particularly special part of an existing family tradition that you want to maintain for the sake of the kids, like putting out treats for Santa, or opening presents on Christmas morning, or other traditions which are familiar to the kids.
If there’s a lot of parental conflict, then it’s probably best that you spend the holidays separately. The decision will be based on what both you and your co-parent feel you can do or want to do for the kids.
If you and your coparent aren’t planning on celebrating the holidays together, you and the kids can spend some time coming up with new traditions that will be meaningful and fun for your household during the time when you have the children in your care.
Celebrating the holidays doesn’t have to be tied to a particular day, it’s more tied to executing the traditions that are important to your household, whenever that may occur.
Tip #2 – Surround yourself with loved ones for as many celebrations as possible
It can be lonely during the holidays if your parenting time schedule causes you to be away from the children on certain important occasions.
For instance, sometimes parents agree that the Christmas period, such as December 24-26 will be shared between the parents such that this year one parent has the children during this period and next year the other parent has the children.
It’s wonderful when you are the one who has the children during those special days, but it can be very lonely when it’s the odd year out where you don’t have the children at all.
The more that you can endeavour to spend days that are special to you, and the days that you may feel the most emotionally drained, with family or friends, the more uplifted you will feel.
Even during the times when you do have the kids, going back to Tip #1 and some of these traditions that you will be creating afresh, it can be uplifting to surround yourself with as many people who love you as possible.
Tip #3 – Create realistic expectations
Even if you follow Tip # 1 by creating new traditions as well as Tip #2 by surrounding yourself with people who you love and who love you, there will still be some moments which will feel out of kilter for you and your children.
The best thing that you can do is to manage your expectations for your first holiday as a separated or divorced family by recognizing that there will be some moments of high emotion – that may be anger or sadness or denial or other forms of grief which you can embrace and use the other 2 tips to help you get through.
The Christmas holiday seems to be one of those holidays that can be very difficult for parents and families to get through in the initial year of their split. There are so many traditions and memories that follow this particular holiday.
If you go into Christmas with managed expectations, planning for some heightened emotion throughout the period, it can help you to really embrace the little things as they go well for you and your kids.
Check out our other holiday blogs:
- Part 1 – Holiday Parenting – For Families Considering Separation or Divorce
- Part 3 – Holiday Parenting – For Long-Time Separated or Divorced Families
- Part 4 – Holiday Parenting – For Blended Families
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