Part 1 – Holiday Parenting – For Families Considering Separation or Divorce
I’ve put together my Top 3 tips for families who are still living under one roof but who are considering separation or divorce. This can be an extremely stressful time for families especially because there’s not much ability to give one another space, and the conflict level is likely very high in the household. This can be especially difficult during the holidays.
Tip #1 – Keep the household as stress-free as possible
When parents are considering a split, there’s usually a heightened degree of conflict in the household. This is just the nature of the particular stage of the breakdown of the relationship.
For kids, their holiday memories are usually filled with things like visits with extended family, planning for Santa’s arrival, making wish lists and fulfilling others’ lists, and other traditions.
No doubt, your kids will feel the added stress in the household. The best gift you can give them is to pause the parental conflict and let them enjoy their traditions. You can pick things back up in January and make more long-term decisions at that time.
If you and your spouse can’t do the together thing, you may consider planning activities to do with the kids separately. One of you may enjoy the outdoors and plan on taking the kids sledding, on walks, or to look at neighbourhood lights. The other may enjoy baking, preparing special dishes, decorating the house, and wrapping presents. The kids don’t have to know that you’re specifically planning to do things separately, but this pre-planning can really help you to enjoy time with the kiddos without the stress of a high conflict spousal relationship getting in the way of the fun. Make it all about the kiddos!
Tip #2 – Focus on creating lasting memories
If you’re waiting for the holidays to pass before starting down the path to separation or divorce, you’re not alone. January is known as “divorce month” for a reason – it’s when a lot of people decide to pull the plug on their relationship and start fresh raising their children in two homes. This may be the last time that the kids will experience Christmas with both parents under one roof. Next year they will be creating new traditions at mom’s house and dad’s house. This will bring excitement but can also lead to sadness with the loss of what’s familiar to them. These memories that you create this year will last a lifetime for the children. Do everything possible to make it as positive as possible.
Tip #3 – Give yourself some space
Being in the midst of a high conflict household can be stressful. It’s easier said than done to smile and put up with the stress of knowing that a separation is looming, but you are biding your time until after the holidays. In the first 2 tips I suggest biting your tongue per se for the sake of your kids, to hold onto some traditions for them, and ensure that they have the most special holiday period they can. This tip is more about being true to yourself, and real with what’s happening in your life.
Everyone needs space, and it’s important that parents take time away from the family to release their stress. That may mean scheduling time with the family but also time away from the family. Here are some ideas:
- Take in a holiday movie at the theatre now that they’re opened back up, or
- Read a book while sipping your favourite holiday drink at your local coffee shop, or
- Take in a fitness class.
Time away will really help you to help yourself, your family, and in particular your kids, to see the healthy and resilient side of you!
Check out our other holiday blogs:
- Part 2 – Holiday Parenting – For Newly Separated or Divorced Families
- Part 3 – Holiday Parenting – For Long-Time Separated or Divorced Families
- Part 4 – Holiday Parenting – For Blended Families