One of the most challenging times of the year for parents is the holiday season. There may be extra work demands to close out the year. Then there is a busy social schedule for kids and parents. It is enough to challenge the most organized couple, and it gets even more complicated if the parents are recently divorced.
Parenting agreements and custody outline the parents’ rights and obligations. They also include all scheduling involving the children, daily as well as holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and those during other parts of the year. While dividing assets consists of a lot of number crunching, the most complicated part of the divorce may involve sorting a holiday schedule of visits to grandparents or religious services. While parents strive to minimize the impact of a divorced family celebrating the holidays, there will be changes to avoid overscheduling.
Important issues to consider
There are important matters and prioritize:
- Which old family traditions to keep: Perhaps Christmas Eve night with Grandma Smith is the one time a year when everyone gets together, or Thanksgiving is always spent at Aunt Judy’s house.
- Create new traditions: Do not underestimate the value of a second Christmas on an alternate day, or dad taking all the kids to a movie on Christmas night.
- Alternating years: Perhaps the parents do not live close enough for attended multiple events in a day, which means alternating holidays so that even year Thanksgiving is with mom and Christmas with dad, and odd years are the opposite.
- Shopping: Parents need to be on the same page and have budgets. Big-ticket items like cars should come from both. It also sends the right message to have children pick gifts for the other spouse when you take them shopping.
Staying flexible is key
Unexpected things arise and can throw carefully laid plans into tatters. Take the children’s lead in determining the importance of unplanned opportunities to see out of town family or spend an extra hour if dinner is running late. Good communication between co-parents is essential and helps create goodwill when parents accommodate shifts. Moreover, depending on how each year goes, it may be necessary to make changes in writing or just through discussion as the children get older.