The holiday season is a time for fun, family and kicking back after a busy year.
In reality, all the cooking, cleaning, travel and family obligations can make the holidays an incredibly stressful time, especially for co-parenting families.
It can feel like you’re being pulled in different directions. Trying to navigate other people's schedules, making sure the kids get to see everyone and dealing with people you’d rather not see all while trying to make sure the kids are having a good time is just plain exhausting.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way.
Here are four simple tips to help make your holiday season a lot less stressful.
You don’t have to see everyone
One big issue is feeling as though you have to visit certain people during the holidays out of an outdated sense of obligation.
Whether it’s your mom’s auntie, your uncle or another parent in a co-parenting family, you and your family do not need to visit everyone.
Select a few people you actually want to see, and everyone else can make do with a phone or video call.
You might feel a guilty about this at first, especially if you have people pleasing tendencies, but setting limits on the number of people you visit will mean you have more time and energy to truly be present with a select few of your choosing.
The quality of a visit is better than the quantity of visits any day.
Setting boundaries means you’re in control of your time and energy.
It also means people won’t walk all over you. People don’t always overstep your boundaries on purpose- they might not even be aware of what your boundaries are, which is why good communication is so important.
The key is to be clear about what you want in a friendly but direct way without feeling guilty about it.
Some examples of communicating your boundaries during the holidays could be:
“I’ll be visiting my family all day on Saturday and need Sunday to recharge”
“I would love to see you but only for an hour as the kids will need to get up early the next day”
“You’re welcome to come over, but can you please not smoke around the kids”
This will take some practice and can be uncomfortable at first, but the more direct you are with people about your boundaries, the better off everyone will be.
Being in a co-parenting family can be a lot of fun, but it can also be a challenge, especially around the holidays.
Both parties want to spend time with the kids, but organising this can be difficult, especially when it comes to working around everyone’s schedules.
It can help to talk with your former partner to plan things like visits and holiday dinners ahead of time, so everyone knows what is expected.
This can help avoid any last-minute arguments about where the kids will be on what day and how much time they get to spend with each family.
If the relationship between you and your former partner is complicated or hostile, consider asking a family member or friend to be the middleman between the two of you when organising holidays so you don’t have to contact each other directly.
Make sure to look after your own wellbeing if you’re planning things with a difficult ex-partner. Kids pick up on our stress so easily, so try to keep any stress or arguments away from the kids.
Savour the moment
After all the organising and planning is done, it’s time to enjoy the holidays!
Try to be fully present with your loved ones rather than worrying too much about other things. Leave your phone in a drawer and bask in the company of your family and friends.
Before people arrive, try to take some time out to enjoy a quiet coffee so you can relax and slip into the holiday headspace before everyone arrives.
The holidays can be a magical time but also comes with their fair share of stress.
By limiting who you see, setting boundaries, planning ahead and being present, you and your family can enjoy a less stressful, more abundant holiday season.