The holiday season, especially Christmas is often an especially difficult for divorced parents. In many parenting plans or custody agreements, Thanksgiving, Christmas and other holidays are normally shared by the parents on an alternating basis. For example, a father may be awarded Thanksgiving in even years and Christmas in the odd years, and the mother may be awarded Thanksgiving in the odd years and Christmas in the even years.
This type of custody schedule means that each year, one parent will not be able to spend Christmas with his or children. And, any parent who has been forced to spend the holiday season without their children knows this is hard. So, what is a parent to do on holidays where he or she is the odd parent out?
Below are some helpful tips on what to do if you find yourself celebrating Christmas without your children this year:
1. Have Christmas with your kids on a day other than Christmas: Just because your children will be with their other parent on Christmas day does not mean that you cannot celebrate with them. Have milk and cookies, sing carols and open gifts on another night, such as a few days before or the day after Christmas.
2. Talk to your kids about it: When you are preparing your children to go spend time with your co-parent, make sure you tell them to have a wonderful time. Also, make sure they know that you will be fine without them. Remember, your children did not create this custody arrangement and may feel guilty leaving you on such a special holiday. Try to make them feel as good about the arrangement as possible.
3. Do something fun, and enjoy the "me time": Of course you will miss your children, but feeling guilty about having time alone or actually having fun while they are away doesn't help. If you will not be spending time with family or friends on your own, take time to have some "me time" and pamper yourself. Do whatever you like doing, especially things that you are not able to do while caring for your children. Relax and enjoy the quite time alone.