This is the time of year when traditions you’ve built with your children are most important. From Thanksgiving through New Years, there are many family traditions that come up: baking, dinners, shopping, movies, and family get-togethers to name a few. After a divorce, the time you spend with your kids is limited, so it can be hard to make the traditions work. Here are my tips for continuing on with the most important parts of your holiday and building new ones.
First, know that the day you practice your tradition isn’t as important as the tradition itself. If you and your ex have an alternate year schedule for the Holiday days, you won’t be able to schedule family get-togethers on the Holiday itself, but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate it!
Be careful about over-scheduling as you work through some of these traditions. Years ago, it was easy for my sister and I to get our kids together for an annual cookie-baking day. Now, however, between my placement schedule, our kid’s extra-curriculars, and the jobs the teenagers hold, it’s much easier to exchange cookies rather than make them together. Sure, if we pushed it hard, we could prep the dough the night before, leave from the basketball tournament, meet at the closest house, bake for 3 hours, rush out and get to another child’s event, but that takes some of the fun out of it, doesn’t it? The point of traditions like these is to enjoy time together as a family and, at least for us, it’s hard to enjoy that time if we’re constantly worried about getting out on time to get to the next scheduled activity. Picking and choosing the most important traditions while being flexible makes it all work.
Make traditions for you and your kids that you can continue for years to come. Their definition of “family” grows larger after a divorce, you and your kids are part of that definition. What makes sense for you? For my children and I, Christmas Eve is our Christmas. I have them every year from Christmas Eve through Christmas Morning, so we’ve been able to build some really wonderful things during those times that my kids appreciate more every year they grow.
The Holidays are a time for family, remember that your ex and his/her significant other (if they have one) are family for your children, too. Just as your kids love spending time with you, they’ll also enjoy time with the rest of their family.
While the kids are with the rest of their family, create something to help you feel less alone. Christmas Day, my kids are with their Dad, every year. Every year, Santa delivers me a new book and a delicious bottle of wine. After I drop the kids at their Dads, I get a nap, a day in pajamas, a new book, and with my dinner - a glass (or two) of wine. It’s my tradition that I carried into marriage with my husband now. While I have book time, he has remote time and a list of DVR’d shows he didn’t get to watch while I watched every Christmas movie that came on TV :) This makes the sting of missing out on time with our kids on Christmas Day just a little less difficult to handle.
Comment below with your favorite traditions with your kids and how you’re making the schedules work.