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Tips for spending time with and without your kids this holiday

The holidays can be a stressful, unpredictable time of year. This can be especially true for parents navigating this time of year for the first time after a divorce.

One particular challenge parents in this situation can struggle with is figuring out what to do when you are and are not with your children. Below are some tips for how to make this a little easier.

When you are with your children

During times when you are with your children, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by all you want and must do. To avoid some of the stress, parents can:

  • Start new traditions with your children.
  • Embrace no- or low-cost ways to celebrate, like checking out holiday lights in the neighborhood or baking cookies together.
  • Let go of the expectation that you must do it all; instead focus on what you most want to do together.
  • Minimize social media use if it makes you feel pressure to post happy pictures of your kids all the time or if it means missing out on activities with your kids.

It is also critical to avoid conflict with the other parent if possible. As such, respect the other's parenting time by being on time to exchanges and adhering to communication guidelines in your parenting agreement. 

When you are not with your children

Not having your children during the holidays is upsetting for most parents, especially when it's the first time. To alleviate some of the sadness or bitterness you might feel during these periods, you might:

  • Have family and friends over at night for games or holiday cocktails when you can be loud and stay up late without worrying about waking up the kids.
  • Take a mini-vacation to get out of town for a night or weekend.
  • Get your Christmas shopping -- and wrapping -- done.
  • Venture out to restaurants that you can't bring your children to.
  • Start volunteering at kitchens or hospitals that need more help during the holidays.

Spending time doing things that make you feel happier and productive can make the time without your kids a little easier to cope with.

Articles like this one have additional suggestions for parents navigating this difficult time. But whatever you decide to do during the holidays, remember that they will be over eventually and you can get back to finding your new normal.

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