While the kids are thinking about all the hot gifts they want for Christmas, divorced parents are thinking about wanting the kids, period. A blended family gets especially hectic during the holidays. Each side has a set of traditions they want to keep and usually, a different set of budgets, guidelines and expectations.
If you want to head into the holiday season with fewer holiday headaches, here are some ways to take the pressure off for everyone involved.
Put the kids first. Not your power struggles between grown ups. The holidays are supposed to be a magical time of year for kids, and this means involving all the important people in their lives. If they will be off school, talk about how to split their free time between both parents so they can enjoy the extra moments together. Discuss the holiday visitation early to avoid any miscommunications.
Communicate about gift giving. If you have a good relationship with your ex, consider going in on a larger purchase and giving it from “Mom and Dad.” If that’s not an option, discussing gift ideas will avoid duplication and confusion. Never make Christmas a place to “outdo” the other parent. Remember the number one rule is to put the kids first.
Make new traditions. This is so important in a blended family. The old family has died, but the holidays don’t have to be a painful reminder of that. Now is the time to make new Christmas traditions. If the kids are wistful for the old ways, don’t take it personally. Just focus on the new, good traditions you enjoy together and let them talk freely about the things they used to do.
Share information. Ask for or give out important dates, like parent teacher conferences and Christmas concerts that the other parent might want to attend. Even if you cringe at the thought of sharing space with your ex, he or she is an important part of your child’s life.
Don’t make them feel like they missed out. In a split family, it’s inevitable that the kids will miss out on some fun times while they’re with the other parent. Unless they ask, don’t make them feel like they missed the party of the century by gloating about the awesome things your side of the family did.
Take advantage of the free time. Visitation is a wonderful time to reconnect with yourself and your spouse. My favorite thing to do while the kids are gone is spend some quality time with Mr. Right. The day before Christmas Eve is date night – we go out to dinner, enjoy some wine and finish all the last minute Christmas chores together. It’s a lovely way to start our Christmas memories.
Spending time away from the kids during the holidays isn’t always easy, but it doesn’t have to be a source of stress. Try these tips to help eliminate the strain between divorced parents. When you focus on what matters in a mature way, the holidays can be all about the love and joy that unites a blended family.
What are some more ways to make the holidays easier for divorced parents?