The holidays can be a daunting time of year after a divorce. Will my ex make a fuss about seeing the kids? What will I do if I used to go to my in-laws house for the holidays? What will my family think if I can’t plan an elaborate holiday party without any drama? Relax. Even though there are a lot of things that are outside your realm of control, how you approach the holidays isn’t one of them. You can’t change your past but you can do your best to make the future as great as you want it to be, for both you and your children after a divorce. These quick little tips can make a world of difference this holiday season, and can set up lifelong traditions that will stay with your kids forever.
- Decorate the house or apartment
Nothing sets the festive mood like holiday music and decorating. This can be a great outlet for you and the kids to bond over the holiday season. Let them pick out a new ornament for the tree every year to monument their growth, as well as your successful parenting skills. Give them decorating responsibilities they couldn’t do the year before to keep it interesting. Put them in charge of deciding the decorative design or theme and it will only strengthen the family bond. This is a great way to channel the energy from a recent divorce into productive, positive family time the kids will never forget.
- Ask your kids what they want
Uncertainty peaks after a divorce. There’s no doubting that. Relinquish some of the responsibility and let the kids decide. Leave it up to them so they feel like their thoughts contribute to the rest of the family. Keep it structured, but this little amount of decision making power can go a long way for kids who have been surrounded by the tensions of a divorce. Focus on something they want to do and get their minds off the recent separation. A simple “What do you think we should do?” will open the door for quality bonding time and traditions that can be carried on for years.
- Focus on a positive future
Don’t stress that things aren’t going to be the same as last year. This will only reinforce thoughts of how it used to be, rather than how great things will be. Kids can see a negative attitude from a mile away. Approach the new family dynamics with a positive attitude and the new traditions will pave the road to a healthy, long lasting relationship with the kids.
- Spend time with friends and family
If your friends and family get together for a holiday party, make an appearance! Join in the festivities and let your kids have a fun time with the rest of the family. If it was a civil separation, spending time together as an entire family can be a great way to reinforce your family values you wish to pass down to your children. When this happens, the holidays become more about the children rather than the unfortunate separation that just happened. The support of your family and friends is crucial for this to work. When everything comes together in a civil way, your children can look forward to spending time together as one big happy family, regardless of what has happened in the past.
- Plan-ahead, but remain flexible
As you gear up and get ready for this holiday season, it’s crucial to understand the situation you’re walking into. Having a plan is great but it rarely works out the way you’d like. Don’t lose your cool. Life happens. Things don’t always go according to plan and that alright. It’s not always what we plan for that makes things memorable, but how we deal with the changes to our plans. So if your ex unexpectedly shows up at the holiday or if one of your kids asks why they aren’t there, remain calm and understand where they’re coming from. Stay flexible and adapt to the needs of your children so they can have a great holiday season and many more to come.
Things are going to be different this holiday season. Keep things positive and set up family traditions that involve your children to set up the positive family dynamic you’re looking for. Regardless of what has happened between you and your ex, focus on the kids for the holidays, and I guarantee it will pay off and make future holiday seasons much easier.