Happy Holidays everyone! I’m heading into my 3rd co-parenting holiday season. Yay! I’m very proud to say that I am potty-trained (for the most part) and learning how to co-parent better each year. After divorce or separation the holidays can be a real source of sourness because let’s face it, your world has been turned upside down. The days of staying up late together on Christmas Eve and sipping hot cocoa in front of the fireplace are a thing of the past.
Remember the times you two would glance over at each other with a “job well done” look on your faces as the kids opened their gifts? Yeah, that too is no longer. These seemingly simple moments now have the ability to remind us of a dream shattered – or they can serve as an opportunity to create a new dream. It’s all about perspective, right?
So, how did my ex and I do it? Here are a few tips that you can take or leave, but I will say these tips have helped keep my expectations in check and my stress levels down during the holidays.
Co-Parenting Holiday Tips:
Parenting after divorce isn’t always easy, and trust me, our journey hasn’t been a total cakewalk. So, feel free to grab a few early holiday gifts below as you continue your co-parenting journey…
1. Be honest.
Being honest begins with acceptance. Accepting the changes in your marital status and family dynamics will bring you peace of mind. Your peace of mind will continue as you are also honest with your children. Sometimes as parents we try to shield or “protect” our children from the truth, but ask yourself, what has the truth done for you? Typically, it relieves stress and sets you free from any feelings of heaviness. So, tell your children the plan. For example, last year their father and I did our shopping for our children separately. That worked best for us last year. Then he came over our home for the unwrapping of their gifts on Christmas morning, and he accepted my invitation for Christmas dinner. Again, that worked for us that year. This year will be a modified version of last year, so take it one holiday season at a time.
2. Release all expectation.
It was a little easier before the divorce to plan the holidays because you all were hopefully doing it together. Well, now it’s a little different, remember? It’s already very challenging to set your expectations for a spouse, let alone an ex-spouse, so just feel it out. Live in the moment. If you two are communicating well at this point then maybe plan to do the holidays together. Shucks! Take a family vacation if you’re doing that well! The kids will love it! On the other hand, if communication is still a struggle or ill feelings are still present, then celebrating apart may be better for all involved. It’s totally up to you. Don’t forget that you get to choose what a successful holiday season looks like for you and your children. Trust your gut and release all expectation.
3. Stay in gratitude.
No matter how your divorce or break up went down, you two created a beautiful human being (or few) together. There was love at some point. So, stay there. Stay in love, and I’m not talking about with your ex! (inserts laugh) I’m saying to stay in the spirit of love, kindness, patience, forgiveness, and gratitude. This season is all about LOVE, right? So, as we head into the holidays being the fierce parents that we are may we remember the loving sacrifice that was made for all believers and birth of Jesus Christ. If we are to be anything remotely close to what Jesus represented, then we shall, without a doubt stay in gratitude and walk in love. I believe in you.
“Co-parenting. It’s not a competition between two homes. It’s a collaboration of parents doing what is best for the kids.” – Heather Hetchler
Author,Love Incorruptible: A Woman’s Reflective Journey to Freedom