Tips for Eliminating the Stress of Co-Parenting During the Holiday Season
It is the middle of November, and as the end of an unprecedented and trying year, 2020 poses a couple more hurdles for divorced parents to endure: The Holidays.
With Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas on the horizon, and COVID-19 still affecting each of our day-to-to movements, it has become abundantly clear that family challenges do not operate on a specific calendar or understand viruses. They simply do not discriminate.
If you, like most California residents who are co-parenting in an already difficult time, are trying to juggle schedules and transfer kids between separate households for the holidays — all while keeping stress levels down in an attempt to finish out the year with confidence — we have a few practical tips that may help.
Tip One: Ease Your Expectations.
Whether you are charged with hosting the kids for the holidays or are the one shuttling them to the other parent’s home this year, one tip to help get through the last six weeks of 2020 is to ease your expectations.
With a public health crisis controlling gathering limits, and the fear of interacting with someone who may have been exposed to COVID-19 at the forefront of most conversations, this holiday season is a good time to understand that you cannot control everything.
Shopping, cooking, and gathering are going to be difficult, so plan something small and ease up on the idea that everyone should be there. If it is just you and the kids, take the time to make it special for your immediate family, and do not allow the fact that others who are not traveling this year — for good reason — to personally affect how you celebrate with those who are present.
Easing your overall expectations will help alleviate the stress of doing it all and may allow you to really enjoy the small things that are within your control.
Tip Two: Be Flexible.
Holidays for families of divorce are often guided by strict schedules, so everyone can get the time they deserve with their children.
For some, that means splitting days down the middle, which can become quite stressful when going from one relative’s home to another’s.
Since the Coronavirus may cut those visits in half — or cancel your usual holiday obligations altogether — this year may be a good time to be flexible about transferring the kids and stretching how much time they spend between both family homes.
Now may be a good time to say, “Sure, just make sure they’re home by…” instead of insisting on the usual drop off deadline. If you do not have anywhere to be, there is no harm in extending a little latitude or taking a little to extend your plans, when everyone agrees on the requests.
Tip Three: Ask For Help.
This is a tough one, as we all want to be the person, parent, or host who can do it all — no help necessary.
However, if you need help — especially with your kids — ask. That could mean asking the other parent to pick up or drop off, should your plans require you to be present for hosting or if your plans take you out of town on your own.
Conversely, if you are alone this holiday season, and the kids are with their other parent, do not be afraid to ask for emotional help to get your through. While you may not be able to physically visit with friends or family, based on your personal safety needs, you can stay connected by phone, text, or video chat.
Keep in mind, you may know someone who needs the support, too, so reach out to a newly divorced parent to see if you can provide a loving word during their first holiday alone without the kids.
All Circumstances Are Unique: Assess Your Holiday Season Without Measuring it to Others
This year has brought enough hardships, and while everyone may have been hopeful that the 2020 holidays would resemble something they once were, do not let the stress and tension of sharing your time with the kids to threaten or diminish the intended joy of the season.
Your family circumstances are unique, so let that be true and celebrate the differences in your home, family, and celebration approach, so you can get through the holiday season without adding any more stress, which may allow you to usher in the new year with confidence.
If you have questions about divorce or child custody, contact our Los Angeles family law attorneys today at (310)552-3500 to learn how we can help you understand your rights and outline your options, so you can make informed decisions about your future.