The holidays are a stressful time for anyone. Family events, parties, and a change in placement schedules are usually on tap. As difficult as it is for adults, the children of divorce have some additional transitions. This post is dedicated to those children and in helping the parents understand some of what the kids may be going through.
You and your children may have mastered the pick-up and drop-off during the rest of the year, but during the holidays, transitions come closer together and are at different times and days. For younger children especially, this may mean acting out during transition time. Acting out can be caused by two things: excitement over the events and transitions outside of their normal times. Knowing that a change in schedule can create a lot of anxiety in children anyway, then throwing the transition between Mom and Dad in the mix, can help prepare you for when it happens. Many co-parents blame the other parent for acting out during this time, but know that it may be bigger than something your ex did or didn't do.
Your families are on your side. There's no greater support system than your family, but remember that any negative talk about your ex can be heard by your children. Though you and your ex may not be getting along and your family will want you to know they’re in your corner, these conversations should be saved for times when your children aren’t around. Remember that even though your ex may be awful, your children are still a part of them.
Different families have different traditions. This time of year, especially this time of year, it is not a competition to see who can buy the most, the biggest, or the brightest for your children. It’s not a competition to see which house your children has more fun at. Your children will have a good time with both sides of their family. Your children will enjoy different aspects of each side of their family. Wouldn’t it be better for them to know you’re happy when they’re happy - even if some of their happiness happens outside of your house?
Children of all ages will tell you stories about what’s happening. Sometimes those stories will be good, sometimes they won’t be as good. For example, you may hear, “Mom bought me new ice skates, but bought my stepbrother a new iPad.” What you may not hear in that story is that Mom also bought a new TV for your child’s room. You may not hear that the stepbrother got an iPad only because of the cost of it. There’s always more to the story and you’re just getting a filtered version of it. Knowing that can help you stay positive for your children's sake.
Finally, it’s never easy to have time without your children, at any time of the year, but this time of year is the hardest. I get it. The best way to handle this is to treasure every second of time you DO have instead of focusing on the time you don’t. Make plans during the time you don’t have your children. Whether it’s a movie marathon, time with friends, or volunteering, if you have a plan for the time without your children, you may dread it a little less.
Comment below with what part of the holidays you’re stressed about and let’s get a conversation going to see if we can help with it.
Learn to talk to your kids about difficult pick-ups and drop-offs with tips in this video and worksheet.