6 Tips to Co-Parent During the Holidays
Christmas time does not feel like the best time of the year when you’re separating.
A client once described sitting at the kitchen table, alone, and realizing how quiet the house was. She said that in all the time she planned for her divorce, she never pictured the silence being so loud. She missed her kids’ chatter, the busy-ness of the living room, the smells in the kitchen.
She then said, “Eventually you adapt, and create new Christmas traditions but the first couple years are the hardest.”
If you’re still new to this, and you feel raw and disconnected, the following 6 tips will help make Christmas feel less blue.
1. Know that you did not do anything wrong
Yes, your kids now have to go back and forth between your two houses, and that is not ideal for any of you. But your kids also do not have to live another Christmas where they watch mom and dad argue over how they spend their Christmas budget or when to go to grandma’s. They get to spend a peaceful (and hopefully joyous) time with each of you.
2. There is no one arrangement fits all
You and your ex can agree on a Christmas time split that includes together time too. Many ex-coupes choose to both be present for the gift unwrapping, or the big cousins gathering. If you both are able to put everything aside, and be there for those times, the holidays will be that much more bearable.
3. Divide the holiday like a disproportionate cranberry pie
Our clients mix and match the important day of the holiday. Often, they agree that one of them spends Christmas eve and New Years day with the kids, and the other Christmas day and New Years Day. It works for many to alternate every year. You can have Christmas day on even numbered years and they can have it on even numbered years.
4. Get help
In a traditional household, each spouse usually takes on certain responsibilities. When you’re on your own, you’re suddenly the cook, cleaner, driver, and fixer-upper- and that just exacerbates the situation. I remember my aunt telling me how shortly after her separation, every time she started to prepare a meal, she’d realize that she does not have the ingredients. Her ex-husband always did the shopping. If you can’t hire help, reach out to your circle.
5. Never ever undermine your ex as a parent
Wouldn’t you want your kids to grow up knowing that their mom never spoke negatively about their dad, nor what he chooses to do with them during the holidays? Even if you don’t think your spouse is doing what they should do with the kids- just let them have the time to spend with them however way they choose. Release the expectations, even when you know they should do better. Speaking out about it to your ex or the kids creates conflict that you can do without especially during the holidays.
6. Re-focus on you
The silver lining in having a quiet house during the holidays is that you get some well earned alone time. Take the time to look back on the past year, and the journey you are on. Think of habits and themes you’d like to leave with the past year, and reflect on what you would like to replace them with in the coming one. Now is a great time to read self help books, and journal.
And finally, know this: you are resilient. Next year, you will look back on this time, and thank yourself for staying the course, doing the best you can, and being kind to yourself through it all.
I wish you a peaceful Christmas and the very best in the New Year.
The decision to separate from your partner is not an easy one. The un-coupling of your relationship comes with all sorts of uncomfortable, and bitter feelings. In addition to the emotions, you must deal with the logistics of separation, such as dividing your assets and liabilities, finding a new home, and negotiating a parenting plan if you share children.