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Handling Christmas as a first-time single parent

Getting a divorce was something that you knew you had to do, but what you weren’t as prepared for was getting one during a busy holiday season. With the holidays coming up quickly, you know that you’ll have to work regularly and still make time for family events and activities. This is even more important this year, since your child is experiencing their first holiday season in a divorced family.

Custody issues often arise the first year after a divorce, because both parents are still getting adjusted to the schedule. Family coming into town and asking to see your child might also throw a wrench in the works, especially if they’ll be there on days when you don’t have custody.

Good co-parents remember to be flexible during the holidays

You and your estranged or ex-spouse should sit down to talk about the issues that may arise this year. Flexibility is often the key to making the holidays work, even if you’re not separated.

When you are, you need to be sure that you’re communicating changes that might impact the custody schedule. For example, if you know that you won’t have custody next week but are hosting your parents unexpectedly, you may ask the other parent if they would switch a custody day or two with you to allow your child to see their grandparents while they’re in town. Most reasonable parents, when other events don’t conflict, would be willing to do that.

It’s a good idea to remember to be fair when you ask for changes in your custody schedule. If you ask for a few extra days, you should be willing to give up some visitation days in your own schedule unless the other parent is willing to waive those due to scheduling conflicts or other issues.

Your child may have preferences that come up during the holidays that you didn’t expect, so both you and the other parent should keep in touch about those as well. Plan for the major holiday dates first, and then look over when people will come into town or have other activities, so your child gets to participate as much as possible.