The holidays are often portrayed as warm and fuzzy, jolly and joyful. The holidays certainly can be all these things, but it is also important to remember that the holidays can be uniquely stressful. There is nothing shameful about feeling stressed during the holidays for any number of reasons.
One common reason that divorced parents feel stress at the holidays is that their child custody arrangements provide that they will either only see their children for part of the holiday break or for no time at all. Perhaps your co-parent has the kids for the holidays this year because you had them at the holidays last year. Or perhaps you will be shuffling your kids between you during the holiday break.
Whatever your unique situation is, the holidays are likely to be less stressful if you do a few key bits of preparation. First, sit down and make an honest assessment of what is stressing you out about your situation. Is it a transportation issue? Concerns about gift giving? Concerns about your co-parent’s behavior? It is much easier to find solutions to your stress if you can clearly identify what is triggering it.
Second, determine what aspects of holiday tradition are most important to you and find a way to share them with your kids. If you love reading them a special holiday story on Christmas Eve but they will be at your co-parent’s home on that night, consider recording the story for them to listen to before bed. The holidays can be truly stressful. But they can also be an inspiration for growth and creativity among divorced parents. It is up to you to embrace this opportunity in your own way.
Source: Huffington Post, “Surviving the Co-Parenting “Holiday Shuffle,” Michelle Crosby, Nov. 18, 2013