Sharing Kids Over the Holidays is About You Too!
I understand how sharing children with another parent, especially over the holidays can present unique challenges. I plan to dive a little deeper into these kinds of topics over the next year, as I share and parent two children with two fathers and family dynamics. There are many things I did and still do well, and some things that I am still learning to manage and create new ways to parent as the need arises.
When it comes to planning the holiday time in particular, tensions rise during this time of year as pressures to wrap up end of the year and preparing for a new year and wanting to have a “normal” holiday time becomes top priority for many of us. In all the hustle, we can easily forget that these times are not just about the kids and how well you parent and plan for them to make transitions seamless (which is a hit or miss depending on the year and moods of everyone involved), but its also about you too!
I understood early on that I deserved to enjoy the holiday as much as I was planning and putting time and attention into the kids having a jolly good time!
These 4 tips make this time less stressful for me over the years and put me back into the equation to enjoy my holiday time too!
A holiday is still…a day.
The sooner I allowed myself to accept that my holiday with my child can be on any day of the week, at any day and time I designate it to be, it freed me to relax during the “negotiation process” of determining which holiday, what time and who goes where. What matters most is assuring the kids that when they return or before they go, you will have your holiday time with them. This will help them to experience their time with the other parent free of worrying about your time with them (because believe it or not, they care about how you feel when they are away from you). I let go of making having the holi-DAY a big deal or deal-breaker for me.
Looking ahead at the calendar to nail down upcoming dates.
Whether you have strong guidelines or more flexible guidelines of a custody-visitation order, or no order at all, save yourself some time, energy, and tension by putting the dates out there to the other parent as far in advance as you can, then work from there. I have had years where I decided that it made more sense to let the other parent have a holiday, consecutive years in a row, if it flowed better for my child’s schedule, took into consideration the desires of the other parent, my kid, or simply worked best for me.
It's O.K. to have a holiday to myself!
I had many moments of missing my kids, but over time, I used the time to reconnect with family, friends, or spend time with myself. There were times I was around other family or friend’s kids and didn’t have mine at all! On other occasions, I got to do what I wanted to do when the kids weren't around like paint, read, sleep or whatever. I now make this time relaxing or as active as I want, for me! I look forward to holidays now because I know that I still get to experience the best of both worlds…with and without the kids!
I no longer pressure myself about gifts anymore for the Christmas holiday.
I used to feel bad if I didn’t have the money to get the gift they really wanted. This went on for several years when my kids were much younger. Between my family and their other extended family, I realized I simply didn’t have to. I know not everyone has this kind of dynamic in their kids’ lives for all kinds of reasons. If you are doing it alone, its ok to let others give to your children or let someone know you would like help! There are so many programs out there that want to give to children. Lean on some of these resources. You give to them all year long by being the best parent you can be. These days, I tell my kids that we will go out together after Christmas and catch some holiday sales!
What are some ways you work through your shared holiday time with another parent or sharing with other family members?