Your holidays may have always been centered around family - splitting time between your family and your spouse's family or spending time together with your children. Now, you are facing a divorce. How can you celebrate this year, when things seem to be falling apart? And what should you do about the children?
One of the most important things you can do for you and your children is to take care of yourself. Give yourself time to adjust, work to simplify the holidays and find things to celebrate. Make plans with family and friends, as well as your children.
Visitation and the Holidays: Planning Time With Your Children
If you already have a child custody and/or visitation plan in place, it should say who gets the children and when. Perhaps your children are with you this holiday season, or perhaps they will spend time with both parents. If you are working on the details of a formal visitation or child custody agreement, remember that holidays are important and should be included in your decisions. An experienced family law attorney can help you work out the details.
It is also important to make sure your children understand the decisions you make. Where will they be spending the holidays? Making a calendar that shows when they are with mom and when they are with dad can be helpful.
If your children will not be with you for a holiday, it is okay to tell them that you will miss them. However, make sure to avoid pitting them against the other parent or saying that you will be sad without them. Even if you don't get them for the holiday, we recommend planning another day where you will celebrate the holiday together. For example, you may want to set aside time for carving pumpkins near Halloween, or to do "turkey crafts" around Thanksgiving.
Also remember: things can change. Child custody and visitation agreements, while court ordered, are not set in stone. If you and the other parent decide that your children should spend the holidays with the other parent, you can modify your agreements.
During a less-contentious divorce, it may be helpful to continue to spend holidays together as a family. Consider how this option will affect everyone involved and whether it will help your children cope during this difficult time.
Eventually, a new "norm" will be established and your holiday routines will recreate themselves. For now, taking the time to figure out the details can make everything go more smoothly and bring a bit of the holiday spirit back.