As a parent, your first holiday season after a divorce can be fraught with worry and stress. You probably still aren’t on the best of terms with your ex, but you want the kids to have good holiday experiences and memories.

It’s good to have a plan. Here are best ways to head off any holiday trouble this year:

  • Get your parenting plan out. You need to review what it says about holiday custody and visitation and compare it with your schedule. If you want to make any adjustments, the time to start negotiations with your ex is now — not the week before an event.
  • Make kindness a rule. You may have some strong opinions about your ex and their family — but keep it to yourself. Your kids just want to visit their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. They’re not aware of the underlying drama and shouldn’t be.
  • Meet with your ex about the gift-giving budget. See if your ex is willing to agree on a budget so that neither of you are in “competition” with the other. If there’s an expensive item a child really wants, talk about splitting the cost.
  • Find new ways to celebrate and new traditions to start. Maybe you’ve always opened presents on Christmas morning, but that’s your ex-spouse’s day this year. Adjust your plans and open gifts with the kids on Christmas Eve instead.
  • Be willing to negotiate and show flexibility. If your ex wants to trade a few hours or a day to fit something special into the calendar, be willing to work with them (as long as the request is reasonable). You can “bank” the goodwill for a future date when you need the same consideration.

Still having trouble working things out with your ex where the kids are concerned? Look for help. A practical, child-first approach can help you resolve the issues without litigation.