I am not going to sugar coat this. Or find some professional way of saying it.
Because no matter what your role is, there are a whole lot of things about having a divorced family at Christmas time that completely, totally and utterly SUCK.
Yep that's right it sucks!
The season goes by so quickly, and when you're splitting your time there just doesn't seem to be time for all the activities and traditions that you want to do.
Plus it's hard to coordinate schedules so that everyone sees everyone... someone is always missing out!
But it's the reality! It's just the way it is!
The key is finding a way to make the best of the situation and come up with a system (and an attitude shift) to make sure that the holidays are just as enjoyable as they would be in that stereotypical nuclear family that we see on all the commercials this time of year.
Here are a few tips to help you make that happen!
1. Be Flexible And Openminded
My dad always used to say "Christmas is when I am with my kids... Even if it means we do it in July"
Growing up, one of the benefits of having divorced parents at Christmas was that I had two Christmas celebrations.
One parent had Christmas Eve and the other had Christmas Day. We would do Christmas Eve traditions with one parent, and then head to the others to do it again! It didn't matter what day it was, come Christmas Night we all pretended it was Christmas Eve all over again!
The date on the calendar doesn't have to dictate when you celebrate everything the holidays are about.
2. Plan Your Access Schedule Far In Advance
And plan it down to the last detail. Have drop off and pick up times arranged. Decide who is doing the driving and where the exchange will take place. All the nitty-gritty details of your holiday season should be mapped out as far in advance as possible, especially if there is a history of having disagreements around these things. This way, everyone knows what to expect and when to expect it, and there are no last-minute stresses or miscommunications.
3. Plan Your Holiday Activities At The Beginning Of December
I want my step-kids to be included in all of our Christmas traditions, but having 50/50 custody makes it difficult to get all the activities in.
A few years ago, we were flying by the seat of our pants for the holiday season, and life got in the way. We didn't have enough time to do all of the things we wanted to do. Favorite Christmas movies went unwatched. Favorite cookies weren't made. We didn't even get around to seeing Santa.
Now at the beginning of December, I map out our month and find time to do all the things we want to do! I even slot in movie nights and baking days! This way we find time for all of our favourite traditions!
4. Don't Fight
It's supposed to be the happiest time of year. Try to not sweat the small stuff and look at the bigger picture. Remember what they say, "sometimes peace is better than being right."
And if there are disagreements about the Christmas schedule or what the kids are doing this holiday season, make sure that the kids don't know anything about it. The last thing you want is for them to look back on their childhood and remember their parents getting into a blow out about the Christmas schedule.
5. Remember Your Children Are Not Possessions -- Be Flexible Whenever Possible
Does your ex have a family celebration on your day with the children? Switch it!
Do they want to do something with the kids when it is "your time"? Accommodate it!
Put any differences aside and remember it's not the kids fault that their parents aren't together -- they shouldn't have to miss out on activities because of court orders and access schedules!
I often hear parents say "that's my time with the kids" and "the kids are mine that week" ... Children are not possessions, they are little people, and it's really not fair for them to miss out on traditions and parties with their family and friends just because their parents aren't together.
Remember, having a successful Holiday season with a blended/divorced family is all about redefining what your "Perfect Holiday Season" looks like.