The holiday season (no matter which holidays you celebrate) is always stressful – particularly if you’re a parent who has to worry about presents, school parties, religious services and large family get-togethers. The first holiday season after a divorce (or separation) can bring a whole new set of stressors.
If you’ve already worked out a holiday and winter vacation custody schedule with your co-parent, you’ve already helped minimize one big source of conflict. Deciding how the children will divide their holiday celebrations and time off is one of the toughest things for many co-parents to agree on.
However, there are still plenty of decisions that have to be made and ways you and your co-parent will need to work together that can’t all be covered in a parenting plan -– starting with whether your child’s Halloween costume is appropriate through how much to spend on holiday gifts and ending with how late they can stay up on New Year’s Eve – no matter where they’re spending it.
Here are a few things to help you make the season more peaceful for the entire family.
Remember that your children are watching
No matter how angry, jealous or competitive you might feel about your co-parent, be careful not just about what you say but how you react. Kids pick up on parents’ emotions – whether they’re verbalized or not.
Think before you speak (or text or email)
Many divorced parents rely on written communication to avoid shouting matches. That’s fine, but remember that texts can be sent in a second of anger and can’t be taken back. Further, an innocent comment can be misread. Before you hit send, reread what you wrote from your ex’s perspective.
Avoid too much alcohol
Sure, a glass of wine or spiked eggnog can be just the thing to help you relax, and you may feel like you need it more than ever. However, it’s all too easy to overindulge this time of year, and good decisions typically aren’t made after a few drinks.
Reach out for help
Whether it’s a friend, sibling or therapist, be sure you have at least one person you can turn to when you’re feeling overwhelmed who can be supportive and honest with you. If you believe you need to modify your custody agreement or parenting plan before the next holiday season rolls around, reach out for legal guidance.