When one has children, the first few holidays during or after divorce can be stressful and difficult to navigate. No one in this situation should expect to snap back into life knowing how to handle everything that lies ahead; instead, they should give themselves some grace. The newness of life after divorce is just like other new things in life: one must adjust to them in their own time.

It is important to remember that one should not expect to have all the answers, especially during the holidays, but what they can do is try their best to create a comfortable and enjoyable environment for their children while taking care of themselves. For those parents approaching the holidays during or after divorce, below are a few tips to keep in mind to hopefully help make the holiday season more enjoyable:

Make the Children the Priority – Make the focus be the children and their enjoyment of the holidays. Spend less time worrying about one’s own issues or problems and enjoy quality time with the children. When trying to make decisions about what to do or not to do, one can ask themselves: Is this too much for my children? What will they gain from this experience? What is best for them?

Consider the Parenting Plan – When two parents are figuring out their time with their children during or after divorce, a parenting plan can be key to taking most of the stress out of situations, such as holidays. To create the parenting plan, the parents can, together, decide what holidays and days each parent will have the kids for the year. While certain circumstances may cause the parents to revisit or revise the plan, such as due to an unexpected work trip, a parent’s illness or sickness with the children, it is comforting to know, for the most part, what lies ahead for the year. If someone is having a difficult time creating a parenting plan, or if their ex is not cooperating, consulting with an experienced divorce attorney can help.

RELATED: Read these 5 parenting plan considerations to keep in mind.

Keep the Children Informed – One way to ensure the children of a newly divorced family do not feel left out or troubled during the holidays is to keep them in the loop when scheduling activities or time together. They should know ahead of time who they will be with and when, if they are old enough to understand the schedule, of course. Knowing this may help them feel comfortable with the new situation, especially if they know they will get to spend time with their entire family, even if it is not altogether like it used to be.

Make New Traditions – When a family had traditions together and their circumstances changed, such as due to divorce, they could feel out of sorts during the holiday season if their routines changed. Since the children will likely be with one of the parents during the actual holiday, perhaps the other parent can create a celebration on a different day and make this a new tradition that they can look forward to each year.

Take Care of Yourself – Children should most definitely be the priority; however, a parent cannot be there for their children up to their full potential if they are not well. Therefore, taking care of oneself should also be a priority, and a parent should not feel guilty for doing so. For example, taking time to talk to a therapist, taking a trip to the spa, taking time to go to an exercise or yoga class, or simply taking some quiet time for oneself can help tremendously.

If you are a parent who is going through a divorce, or one that is newly divorced, we understand that the holidays can be a tough time. Please keep in mind that you are not alone—most divorced parents have experienced something similar. Keeping your children at the top of your mind, while also ensuring that you are taking care of yourself, is important. We hope the above tips can help you to enjoy the holiday season with your children, and that you can make new memories together.

Have questions about your divorce or custody case? Our attorneys who are well-versed in all family law matters can help. Contact us now to set up a consultation however it is most convenient for you—via telephone, video, or in person.

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