Parenting time is a critical part of parenting agreements. Separate from a custody agreement or child support, parenting agreements set out how you will share parenting responsibilities, how you will communicate with each other, and how you plan to act together in the best interests of your children.

Holidays are family time, and for couples that are separated or divorced this can mean both holiday fun and holiday headaches. Holiday schedules are often added to parenting agreements to ensure children get to experience the joys of the season with both parents. No matter the fairness of the parenting agreement, it can be difficult for parents to adjust around the massive changes to their holiday traditions.

Your Children Come First

Regardless of your marital status, you are still a family. Your children come first, and if you keep this in mind, it’s easier to handle the emotions around parenting agreements. Not only your emotions, but the emotions of your children. How you talk to children about your divorce and how you act around them can have a huge impact on their development.

The Michigan Courts site has some great resources regarding creating parenting agreements, and how parenting time needs vary based on different stages of child development.

Handling the Holidays

With all this in mind, how DO you handle the holidays? You may choose to alternate, share or split holidays. To minimize any disputes, it’s best to include a holiday schedule in parenting agreements, keeping in mind that any holiday schedule supersedes your normal parenting schedule.

Make a list of all holidays – including Father’s Day and Mother’s Day – and determine how it would be best for your kids and your family to spend it.

Take Care of Yourself Too

As parents, we put our children’s needs first, but that doesn’t mean you completely ignore your own needs. Taking care of yourself is important. When you take care of your own needs, you are happier and have more energy to care for others.

If you don’t have your children over the holidays, make some plans to meet with family or friends. Schedule a massage, go to a game, have dinner at a nice restaurant. Spending time on things that make you happy will lift your mood and make you feel a little less lonely.

Cleaning and organizing can have the same effect. An “out with the old, in with the new” attitude can help you stop looking to the past and begin imagining a new, hopeful future.

Start New Traditions

Holidays are also a time of nostalgia. We look back and remember our childhood, and may also be a little sad for what we’ve lost going through a divorce. No matter how thorough, parenting agreements cannot help us manage our emotions.

Rather than look bad with sadness, start new traditions with your family to begin to create your new life. Buy or make new ornaments for the tree. Incorporate charitable giving or volunteering into your family holidays. Change up the holiday menu and involve your children in the cooking.

Take Time to Grieve

It’s natural to be sad, especially if this is your first holiday after a separation or divorce. A lot has changed, and though many changes are positive, you’ll still miss the best of your old life. Over time, you’ll find the sadness fades and will be replaced by new joys, new successes and new traditions.

If you are thinking about divorce, creating or considering changes to parenting agreements, or just want to understand your options, a good divorce lawyer can help. The Law Office of Stephanie Krane-Boehmer provides services for divorce including child custody, parenting agreements, and spousal support. Contact us today.

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