The holidays can make the average family lose their mind between the scheduling of activities and the endless to do lists, never mind a divorced family. But don’t fear, here are some holiday hacks so you can sail through this time of year and not lose all your marbles!
Think big picture, because this too shall pass. It’s easy to get caught in the smaller “what’s fair” conversation as you navigate your schedule of sharing your children. It’s hard to see the big picture when you’re in the muck of it. Think “what works” rather than “what’s fair”. That makes it less personal. You may not get all of what you want but being cooperative and flexible is always better and will set the groundwork for the future. When your kids are grown, they’ll have great memories rather than remembering a tug of war during this time of year.
Have a growth mindset. What can mess with us is the picture in our head of how we think things “should be”. Be open and be willing to see other pictures. Negotiate; ask for what you want but be open to hearing what your ex wants as well. Use inclusive language that promotes the idea of team. Always use “I” statements as opposed to “You” statements because they are respectful and nonthreatening…. “I’d like to…” vs “You should…” “I was thinking it could work if we…” vs “You need to…” When you come from this mindset, you’ll stand a better chance of having more cooperation than when you’re stuck in one picture.
We are meaning makers with great power. You can make something mean it’s good or it’s bad… a knife is a weapon or a knife is a tool, fire keeps us warm or fire destroys. With your ex…[It’s just not right that my kids won’t be able to play with their toys very long on Christmas morning before their dad picks them up at 1:00] or [It will be fine, this Christmas the kids will learn flexibility and resiliency. I’ll prepare them to be ready and work out a plan for when their dad picks them up at 1:00.] We are always attaching meaning to everything, so make it mean something positive for your peace and happiness and your children’s.
Pick your battles, (for lack of a better phrase). Ask yourself: Is it really important? Can I let this go? Can I work around this? Let’s say your daughter will have a lot of candy for two days at her dad’s; send a note with her to remind her to brush well. If you know it’s going to cause an argument to make a request, and it really is something you can live with that isn’t the end of the world, then choose peace.
Create a communication blueprint, if you need to stand your ground on something that is important to you. Request a time to talk; don’t bring the issue up when your ex drops the kids off as this will catch him off guard. Unequal footing can cause power struggles, so set it up as you would an appointment. You’ll likely have more success being heard.
I know it’s not easy during the holidays with your ex, but there are ways to make things smoother for yourself and your kids. It comes down to your choices and actions. Try to work with your ex as you would with a business colleague. Don’t take things personally, choose to discuss issues in a solution-focused way.
I guarantee these holiday hacks will make a huge difference this season, for yourself, your kids and, I dare say … for your ex too.
Cheers to holiday peace!