Have you ever seen the movie Four Christmases? It’s a pretty common scenario for blended families. During the holiday season, blended families face additional challenges, between scheduling, accommodating their blended family plus extended family, and ultimately, trying to make themselves happy as well.
Some people choose to just hide (or get away!) to avoid it. Other families go above and beyond and become exhausted from trying to please everyone. Realistically, the right answer is probably somewhere in the middle (like always!) But, every family should do what works for them. Here are some tips to keep family happy and stress as low as possible:
- Pick your battles. If you and your co-parent don’t agree on anything for your holiday schedule, and you do not have an agreement to rely on, then choose what your most important priority is and advocate for that. Not everything will go your way, but document what you did and try to flip it next year so that both you and your co-parent feel “heard.” Alternatively, finalize a parenting plan so that you do not have to negotiate these issues each year.
- Don’t overschedule. Sure, it’s enticing to go see the holiday lights, take a sleigh ride, do pictures with Santa, build gingerbread houses, make every crafty ornament you see on Pinterest, etc. But it’s not realistic. If you try to overschedule your family, especially if you and your co-parent are separated, no one is going to be happy. Remember, even when you have a shared parenting plan and you do not see your children every day, there are still obligations that you have to fulfill. You can’t make every day magical for your children, and you will drive yourself crazy if you try to. It’s also important for your children to realize that both parents share responsibilities, rather than just picturing one parent as the “fun one.”
- Put the kids first. Sure, the grandparents want to see them, the aunts and uncles want to see them, but who do they want to see? It’s not that the children should be able to “run the show,” but if you give them some input as to the holiday plans, they are more likely to be willing to go, and enjoy themselves, which probably means that you can enjoy yourself more, too!
Whatever you and your co-parent decide to do, try to enjoy the holidays! If you do need to modify your current parenting plan, or actually establish one, contact Wolf & Shore Law Group at 203.745.3151 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Ever Argue with a Woman?