Ever see “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, well if there was ever a real life rendition of the Whos in Whoville, it would be me. I am often told that the Holidays look like they threw up all over my home. What can I say, I love the magic of all of the holidays. For a rather long time we had all of the Children, all of the time, and then came a change in the wind and the holidays started to be shared. The change was an adjustment to be made, but after long and hard review of all of the important factors we have found a way to happily adjust, and more importantly make for a smooth transition for the children.
Last year was the first year my (step) children started going to their (bio) mom’s house for alternating holidays. My son always only went on thanksgiving for half, Christmas Eve, and half of Easter, which never bothered me at all. With the “new” schedule for my (step) kids we would be missing WHOLE DAY HOLIDAYS. It honestly made me sad when the agreement was first finalized, I thought of all the activities they would be missing and all the memories we would be losing, but I also lost sight of all of the memories they were missing from making with their mom. My then greediness turned into sadness, and I now find ways around the void.
We have our traditions and she has hers, and luckily for us a lot of the times we are able to meet somewhere in the middle so the kids still get the best of both worlds. A great example of this is Thanksgivings are every other year from early morning to late night, a long standing tradition of ours is the Elf on the Shelf makes his grand entrance, and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade gets plastered on every television in the house. Rather than missing this tradition, she very graciously agreed to pick the kids up later. We do a lot of give and take, but at the end the day the goal is to achieve what is best for The Children.
Again, with me being the real life representative of WhoVille the holidays aren’t just one day, nope Christmas last from the day after Thanksgiving to Christmas. I could very easily schedule things when I feel like it, and not around the children but where exactly would that get anyone. It is important to be flexible. Making the children feel torn between the two parents does not feed a healthy lifestyle for an already hard situation, so scheduling around the children’s visits are best. When worst comes to worst and we are bound to dates and times, we try to work something out with their mom, but we completely understand that she has a life and plans as well so sometimes that isn’t an option. When the kids can’t make something, find a way to include them anyway. My stepchildren weren’t able to make a gingerbread party, rather than them feeling excluded we purchased them houses to decorate when they got home. Compensating for the loss is important, but over compensating is a big no no, nor is reminding the children that they will be missing anything. Believe me, we have had many moments where my (step) children get upset about going with their mom for the holidays, but it is our job to put the positive on it. Never entertain negative feelings about the kids going with their other parent. It is a recipe for disaster, and it only opens the door for them to try to play one parent against the other, nip it in the bud right away.
I often try to find ways for the children’s (bio) mom to be included when she doesn’t have them for the holiday, this I find helps soften the blow when she does have them so they do not feel that much of a change in routine because she is around for “every holiday”. This is as simple as a phone call, to sending pictures, buying her gifts if holiday appropriate, and even having her over for holiday activities. The children should never feel alienated from their parents especially on holidays.
It is okay to have trouble with sharing the holidays, and not having the kids with you all the time, honestly it’s a hard adjustment and hard feelings are expected. When you first had children I am sure your dream of the perfect family didn’t included divorces and shared holidays, but just as you didn’t ask for this neither did the children. It is important to keep your eye on the prize with this one, and that is to raise a child who doesn’t suffer the terms of the divorce/separation.
I hope my tips help you get through the holidays, and more importantly I hope the Holidays are warm and comforting to you and your family.
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