It is amazing to me how fast this year has gone. I cannot believe we are already well into the holiday season. Personally, I am ecstatic. It is definitely one of my favorite times of year!
That being said, I know that it is quite a challenging time of year for many families, especially when the family is split by divorce or a broken relationship. Many ex-couples fight about the kids around the holidays, wanting to make sure they don’t “lose” something. In the end, unfortunately, the ones who really lose are the kids.
I have been successfully co-parenting after divorce for over 20 years. We have had one basic rule where the holidays are concerned: the kids come first. It has not always been easy, but the kids have really benefited from our ability to stick with it.
This is what we do:
When the holidays are approaching, we begin to have conversations about what each of us is going to be doing for the holidays. For Thanksgiving, we figure out who is going to be where, what is going to be happening there and then we evaluate what would be the most enjoyable for the kids. Now that they are older, we actually present the options to them and let them choose where they want to be. Neither of us has hurt feelings and we make sure they know that.
There have been years too when we all enjoy Thanksgiving together. When we have hosted Thanksgiving dinner at our house, we have invited dad. Sometimes he is available and sometimes not. When we do have the holiday together, it has been a wonderful gift for our children, and for us.
There are a variety of ways to approach the holidays after divorce. This is just one way that has worked for us. If you are in a volatile relationship, it may not be as simple. We have definitely had our volatile moments as well. All you can do is focus on how to create harmony for yourself and your children. Just do your best each year as the holidays come around and keep your focus on what is in the best interest of your kids.
For those who are on schedules where you alternate holidays, if you have a relationship that allows you to be flexible, I would still recommend evaluating where the kids would have the most fun. We have a schedule and we know it is there, if we need a default. We just choose to work together in creating something that works for everyone in each given year.
The holidays are never stressful for us or for our kids. They are growing up enjoying their holidays and not feeling anxiety at this time of year. How many people are roaming around with holiday anxiety and they don’t even know why? It may just stem from childhood stress over the holiday season, which has absolutely nothing to do with them. It is a sad way to experience a beautiful time of year.
Once the arrangements are made for your children, if you are going to have them with you, create traditions, play games and enjoy the fun. If you are not going to have them with you this year, what would make this holiday enjoyable for you? Come from a place of abundance as opposed to lack. How can you enjoy what you have on this day? Be with people you love and who love you. Do fun things. Be creative. Enjoy the time alone and/or with friends. Or, contribute to the community. What could you do to give back?
Gift your children, yourself and your ex-spouse with love, gratitude and the true essence of Thanksgiving.
Have a blessed and joyous Thanksgiving! For more tips on creating Thanksgiving Peace, click here for another great article!