School holidays can be stressful even in the best of circumstances, from taking time off work to entertaining the kids to orchestrating how you’ll get together with all your family and friends; there’s so much to plan. But the thought of all the added stress sure to come with navigating school holidays post-divorce may make you want to skip them altogether. First, there’s the emotion you and the kids are likely to feel as you come to terms with your new holiday reality. Then, there’s the logistics of who goes where, when and how. Before you wave the white flag of surrender, take a breath, and then check out our tips to better cope with school holidays post-divorce.
- Get Organized – Start by getting together with your ex (via phone, video chat, or, if you’re on good enough terms, in person) and get all the school holidays on both of your calendars as well in advance as possible. Ideally, you already have a co-parenting plan and can easily see which holidays fall with which parent. In a perfect world, you can each accommodate the holidays that fall during your time and they happen to be the ones most important to you as well. In reality, we know that likely won’t be the case which leads us to…
- Plan to Compromise – Maybe you’ll have to swap holidays because of work or maybe you’ll have to accept splitting time with your ex on a holiday that falls with you for the kids’ sake. Whatever the case may be, the kids deserve the effort of both parents to work together to ensure school holidays are still special for them. Plus, being open to compromise (which is different than being a pushover) is much easier than fighting through each holiday, right? And, if your kids are old enough, consider involving them in the decision-making as feeling heard and having some control will likely ease some of their stress as well!
- Adjust Expectations for School Holidays Post-Divorce – For yourself and your kids. While everyone will feel a sense of loss that school holidays won’t be exactly the same (and that’s OK), the new reality doesn’t have to be a negative one. Communicate the plans ahead of time so it’s clear what to expect while also focusing on positives that may come with new opportunities. Don’t forget to reinforce with the kids that they are still loved very much by both of you and that they should never feel guilty for their holiday time with one parent or the other.
- Create New Traditions – If dad always cut the turkey at the family Thanksgiving, maybe your son could now take the honor. If you don’t have Christmas morning with the kids, maybe you take the afternoon to give back by volunteering with them. If, instead of counting down the night before, you’re spending New Year’s Day together then make it special with firsts you’ve each selected that you’d like to try. The point is, there’s no requirement that to be special, school holidays always have to stay the same. You might find you love new traditions just as much!
- Consider It a Work in Progress – There’s so much unnecessary pressure around making holidays ‘perfect,’ and perhaps you’re feeling it even more so if this is the first post-divorce. But that mentality WILL NOT help anything, nor is it attainable whether divorced, married or single. Rather, consider these school holidays a work in progress, giving yourself permission to honestly communicate with your ex and your kids about what worked and what would make them even better in the future. After all, what’s most important is having fun, creating memories, and spending quality time together, however it works for your family!
If you’re struggling with co-parenting challenges post-divorce, we’re here to help! Our experienced team offers fully virtual coaching and mediation services. Contact us today to learn more or for a free consultation.