According to a recent extensive study at the University of Washington, national divorce trends consistently follow a pattern. Research suggests divorce rates peak follow a “domestic ritual” and actually peak in March and August. While divorce is rarely a shock, the planning and implementation can temporarily numb the pain. Everything from property and financial division to creating a workable custody agreement demands complete focus to ensure a healthy future for all involved. Of course, once that’s completed, the real fun begins as reality sets in… and often around the holidays. But fear not! There are some simple tips and strategies to help you get along with your ex during the holidays.
Communicate and Plan in Advance
Co-parenting of any variety doesn’t have to be excruciating around the holidays if you plan well enough in advance. Open and ongoing communication plays a huge part in the success of any post-divorce parenting venture, and this is especially true during the holidays. After all, you’re not just planning for one household anymore… you’re planning for two. Working together helps eliminate assumptions and misunderstandings that can instantly transform a special event into a stressful one.
Keep and Share a Schedule
There are approximately six divorces to every 1000 Michigan residents, so your family certainly isn’t alone in its seasonal challenges. Kids are resilient, but they still thrive on consistency. Children of divorce, especially, tend to feel completely out of control and need an extra level of structure to maintain emotional balance and mental clarity. The last thing any parent wants is ongoing calls from school because Junior suddenly turned into a bully or the class clown. Unfortunately, that’s often the result of unorganized post-divorce parenting. An easy way around that, especially around the holidays, is to make a solid schedule with the ex and share it with the kids. This will ensure they know, understand, and accept the holiday plans. And it’ll save you loads of headaches in the process.
Set Limits and Don’t Compete
Finances change drastically after a divorce, and chances are the holidays are going to reflect that. This isn’t the time to go crazy with expensive trinkets to prove yourself as the holiday hero. In fact, simply working together with the ex is often the easiest and most effective way to stay on top of the season. Set holiday limits for finances, gift giving, and all holiday celebration activities. Instead of competing with the ex to see who can give the best gift or hottest toy, opt for balance. Be honest about what you’d like to give the kids and make sure it doesn’t outdo your ex’s plans. By doing so, the kids will continue seeing you as a united front.
Stay Focused and Remember the Goal
Holiday joy is extended far beyond glitzy packaging and a favorite new toy. Those bells and whistles will be forgotten about soon after tearing open the paper and the initial squeals of delight. But the memories surrounding those moments will go on for years to come. You and your ex deserve happy memories. Take the kids to see Santa. Decorate the households together. Go to some special concerts or events. Continue some family traditions, and make some new ones to commemorate the changes in your lives, because that’s where the magic really happens. If you need more suggestions, contact your Michigan divorce attorney.