Parenting is wonderful. And challenging. Even under the best of circumstances. The holidays can be wonderful, and challenging – especially if you are “newly separated.” Everything seems heightened during this season—more traffic on the roads, longer lines in stores, constant “happy holiday music” – all of which can be particularly challenging if you’re trying to navigate the first holidays since your break-up.
It can be daunting but it is possible to have smooth, happy holidays. Really. To begin with, try to work on remaining (or regaining) calm, resisting the pull to escalate. And try to keep bringing your focus back to your children, working to see things through their eyes, feel what they are experiencing. (If you find this difficult, it may be helpful to start with some grounding/centering exercises – breathing, meditating, walking, etc. – feel free to contact me if you would like additional help with this.)
In addition to the general advice to find some calm, specific co-parenting tips for smooth(er) holidays include:
- · Before the holidays crash around you, find a quiet time to work with your ex (otherwise known as the other parent to your darling children) to come up with specific plans so that surprises are minimized, avoiding confusion for you and for your children;
- · If it’s possible, see if you and your ex can continue some holiday traditions with your children; if you find it causes more tension to be together, create new traditions to enjoy with your children (without the other parent);
- · Try to be flexible and open to changes;
- · Remember to take good care of yourself too;
- · If things seem too overwhelming, (or depressing, or any other big difficult emotion), try to come back to centering yourself and focusing on your children, and if you need to, don’t hesitate to contact a friend or professional to help you through the rough spots...
Although this post is geared toward divorcing parents, the suggestions can also be useful for any single person coming into the holidays. Although the holidays may bring challenges, we can learn new ways to enjoy and feel good.