The first holiday season for a newly divorced family will hopefully be a positive experience for the kids and parents. It will also likely be a test of how well the new parenting plan will work. But while the plan may look good on paper and considered many foreseeable issues, life has a way of going off-script when you add a few kids and a ton of ideas to the mix. This leads to stress for many of us.
Tips to minimize stress
Here are some ideas for making the best of the holiday season for families that have recently gone through a divorce:
- Be open to change: Traditions are one cornerstone of family celebrations, so talk to the children about what traditions should be kept and which ones need to be changed. With the parents living apart, determine if both or one parent continues the tradition. Parents should also try to start new traditions on their own as well.
- Try to be realistic: Avoid the temptation to overschedule. Kids will often rebel if they are shuttled around too much. They may also have anxiety about large social events, even ones that include extended family. Overstimulation can also be an issue, which leads to disruptive behavior. The first holiday after a divorce is a great time to reprioritize, so put the best interests of the family unit first and say no if you need to.
- Prepare the kids: It is key to let kids know what the plans are and then remind them if these are different than the usual schedule. It is also essential to let the kids know if there are out of the ordinary expectations involving them.
- Remember to laugh: Parental stress has a way of sucking the energy out of a room. Yes, a lot is going on, and you may now be on your own, but try to enjoy the moments and have a sense of humor when things go off-script.
Parenting plans help avoid frustration
It is best to have an open mind and a positive attitude during the holidays, but there is a lot of planning and coordination that takes place even when the family does not need to board a plane to see grandma. Good parenting plans worked on by parents and their attorneys can address many potential issues and set expectations, leaving parents to adjust and work together as problems crop up.