Courtney ∙ Clark Law, P.C.Courtney ∙ Clark Law, P.C.
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Is this your first holiday season as a co-parent?

If you finalized your divorce this year or will soon, you could be facing your first holiday season after deciding to end your marriage. Perhaps getting through the summer, the start of school and the first parent-teacher conferences wasn't as bad as you thought it would be, but as the year winds to a close, you may be experiencing some trepidation.

The holidays often present challenges during the best of times, but during or after a divorce, they can be overwhelming. With some work and preparation, you could still find a way to enjoy the holidays.

"The only way out is through"

That saying may have new meaning for you now that you are experiencing your first holiday season as a co-parent. Your parenting plan may address a holiday schedule, but that may not be enough to put the joy back into the season for you. The following tips may help you get through it:

  • As you and the other parent discuss the holiday schedule, try to figure out what you find most important about the season. For instance, do you prefer Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years?
  • Keep in mind that being a co-parent may mean making compromises. Neither of you will always get what you want or be completely happy with the circumstances.
  • Take this opportunity to start new traditions or decide to keep the old ones. You may even want to include your children in this decision so they can be part of it.
  • You don't always have to spend holiday time with your children alone. You could include the other parent in activities such as decorating the tree, opening presents or attending holiday functions.
  • If extended family was an important part of the holidays prior to the divorce, do what you can to make that happen for you and the children. If time with the grandparents was a big deal for them, make sure to schedule it despite the divorce.

Another thing you can do is take time for yourself. When the kids are with your ex, there is nothing wrong with you enjoying some quiet time or some time with friends or family without the children. You have been through a rough year as well, and if you don't take care of yourself, you can't be the best possible co-parent to your children.

If for some reason you encounter resistance from your ex regarding any of the above, you can always go back to the negotiating table or to court in order to resolve any issues the two of you find impossible to handle on your own.

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Courtney ∙ Clark Law, P.C.
104 South Charles Street
Belleville, IL 62220

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