by Marina Sbrochi, for GalTime.com
making holidays happy when you're a single parent
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Managing the holidays when you are married with children definitely takes some finesse and strategy. Sometimes just the negotiating where to go can even be rough - “Should we alternate years for Thanksgiving and so on? OR Do we visit one house, then the other if we live in the same town?” Forget simplicity if both families live out of town.
Now, throw a divorce on top of the holiday visiting mix. Not only are you splitting the holidays more than two ways , you are splitting custody of the your children on these holidays.
Can I get a magic calendar please? Can we clone the children? While cloning the kids or waving a glitter-filled wand would be an easy fix, it’s not likely to happen. So what’s the divorced parent to do?
Sometimes when the divorce is plain old nasty - the courts will tell you what to do. Not fun for anyone. Of course, I advocate being cool and getting along because you love your children (is there a better reason than that?!?).
For the kids
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Goal number one should be making it easy on the children. There is no reason the holidays still can’t be happy times. It is all about the attitude. Taking into account the ages of the children, you have a few different options.
1. If you will be celebrating the holiday in the same city, you can agree to split the day up. One person take the morning to 4pm shift and the other parent gets the kids from 4pm onward. Thanksgiving for lunch and dinner, sounds delish! Who can’t eat that meal twice? Win! Win! You can alternate your morning and afternoon years as well.
2. If you have older children that are more into doing their own thing , perhaps you can switch up years. Celebrate with dad one year and mom the other. When it’s your year for the holiday, start making your own traditions or maybe even take it on the road. Choose a destination to celebrate your holiday.
3. When families live out of town, this is where the real juggling begins. You obviously can’t split the day up. Alternating holidays and years is your best bet. Depending on which holidays you celebrate, you might want to do Thanksgiving with one parent and either Hanukkah or Christmas with the other. You could even agree to split Hanukkah evenly for each parent every year.
4. Regardless of which way you divvy it up, make a firm plan ahead of time. Let your children know what exactly is going on. Make it easy for them. Ask them to take part in planning.