Part 3 – Holiday Parenting – For Long-Time Separated or Divorced Families
This blog post is a continuation of our holiday series, and is intended for those families who have been separated or divorced for a while, and who have had more than one holiday in two homes. Your family has likely had some challenges and some successes, but all-in-all I bet there’s some things you would like to improve this holiday season to make the holidays extra wonderful for your children. We’re going to do something fun to change it up a bit – we’re going to do a “who, what, when, where” format. Let’s get started…
Who should be involved?
Given that today’s topic is for families who have spent one or more Christmases apart and have likely had some challenges in the past, I recommend that you draw on your own past experiences to decide who’s going to come into your Christmas holiday bubble.
If you and your co-parent tried doing Christmas together last year and it was successful, try it again! If it was a disaster, or the conflict level was too high, don’t put you or your kiddos into that situation again.
Think of the people who are important in your life – likely extended family, or close friends – consider spending part of the holidays with those people who really make you and your kids feel like the special people that you are.
What should you plan?
I recommend planning whatever gives the people you’re around the most stress-free, enjoyable holiday celebration. What is key for kids is to condition their minds to associating the holidays with good memories, not filled with conflict and stress.
If you like the outdoors, plan to go skating in an outdoor rink or go for a walk or drive around to see neighbourhood lights. If you are an indoor person, maybe plan to bake or play games or watch movies.
Find out what the kids want to do, and plan for that!
When should you plan your festivities?
I talked a bit about this in last week’s blog where we talked about my tips for families creating new traditions.
With so many separated or divorced families these days, you probably won’t be the only one in your extended family who has to plan around when you have your kids with you.
The holidays should be about spending time with family and friends and taking in as many celebrations as possible. If we’ve learned anything from our COVID isolation over the past couple of years it’s the importance of spending time with family and friends. Sometimes we don’t know how important something is until it’s taken away from us.
It can be so great for kids if you and your co-parent can plan holiday parenting schedules around extended family celebrations, not the other way around – avoid working celebrations around the schedule if possible. This allows kids to be able to enjoy as many experiences with as many loved ones as possible.
In the end, of course try to plan as many celebrations when you have your kiddos as possible.
Where should you plan to spend the holidays?
When I think of travel I can’t help but look outside my window right now and see the snow that is falling and the roads that are becoming more and more treacherous by the minute!
The question of “where” is going to depend on your parenting schedule. My recommendation is to try to limit the travel for the kids on their special days, whatever those days are. That may be Christmas Eve, or Christmas Day, or whatever.
You’ll want to plan to spend the holidays with people who care about you, like family or friends, and so that may dictate where you will spend your holidays. But if you plan on trying to avoid having kids spend special days in a vehicle or traveling more generally for the better part of these special days, they will appreciate it.
If you and your co-parent plan on spending the holidays at great geographic distances, then you will need to plan for what day will be best for the kids’ travel.
Check out our other holiday blogs:
- Part 1 – Holiday Parenting – For Families Considering Separation or Divorce
- Part 2 – Holiday Parenting – For Newly Separated or Divorced Families
- Part 4 – Holiday Parenting – For Blended Families