Mother and daughter decorating a Christmas tree.

Putting Your Kids First: Making the Holiday Season Happy

If you have children but are divorced or separated, the holidays may be an extra difficult time of year. Celebrations will be different, and past family traditions may have to be put aside. It can be easy to get stuck focusing on the negative. Instead, focusing on your kids can help you put some magic back in the season.

Give the Gift of Compromise

When working on a schedule for the holidays, you may be tempted to go toe-to-toe with your former spouse to get what you want and show your children you want to spend time with them. Instead of fighting it out, you can help your children more if you give them the gift of compromise with their other parent. The nonprofit Child Mind Institute encourages divorced parents to view compromise as the most important holiday present they could give their children. Your children will benefit if you can focus on what is best for them rather than insisting that you get your way.

Create New Traditions

Be intentional about creating new traditions with your children after your divorce. Plan a special outing with them if you can, like a trip to a holiday market you've never visited before or a concert you haven't attended in the past. If a compromise with your former spouse means that you spend the actual holiday without your children, use this opportunity to schedule a special "Christmas with Mom" or "Christmas with Dad" the weekend before the holiday or the week after. These new traditions will give you something positive to share and help you focus on each other.

Take Care of Yourself

The holidays are already a stressful time of year, and helping your children navigate the season can be difficult. Be intentional about scheduling self-care sessions when your children are with their other parent. Spend time with friends and family, or take a day trip to focus on yourself. Just as you created new traditions with your children, create new traditions with yourself. Treat yourself to a meal at a new restaurant or take in a movie you've been wanting to see. By caring for yourself, you'll be better able to care for your children and meet their needs.

The holidays after divorce will be different, especially if you have kids. By focusing on them and keeping them at the center of your plans, you'll be able to navigate this transition successfully and create new memories that you'll treasure together.