I bet you thought that once the divorce was finalized everything was going to be smooth sailing.  Sorry, let me catch my breath because I am choking on my laughter over here. I know that might be a bit harsh, but hey, I am a tell-it-like-it-is kind of gal.  

The holidays are coming, and for those of you with small children, the games are just beginning. Unfortunately, the holidays often create a huge amount of stress on everybody, including your children.

After a divorce, everyone wants to have the kids on Christmas Day – parents, grandparents, etc… Unfortunately, we can’t clone the kids, although I hear that may be a thing in the not-too-distant future.  

But the best advice I can give to you is this: this is a holiday.  This is supposed to be a time of love and joy. Don’t burden the kids with your fights with the ex. Your tug of war with the kids, keep them out of it.

Hopefully your separation agreement handled holiday visits and the kids. Having been through divorce myself and having worked in a law firm for 10 years, I can tell you with 100% certainty that this is the biggest source of arguments and stress. But, there is a way to do holidays without an all out War of Roses-type fights and running up legal bills that will have you suffering through sleepless nights on repeat.   

Here’s my earth-shattering, revolutionary advice. Ready for it???

Take turns.  

Yes that’s right.  Alternate Christmases.  It’s really that easy. One year you get the kids and the next year your ex does.  And on those years when you don’t have the kids on Christmas day, do your thing Christmas Eve.  Better yet, start a new tradition with them. Don’t bitch and moan about not having them on Christmas.  That will make them feel badly, anxious, and like they have to divide their loyalty and choose sides.

Look, the family is not what it used to be.  This is the new normal.  So make it fun. Start a new tradition.  Something that is just for you and your kids.  Maybe go for dinner on Christmas Eve. Get all dressed up and celebrate at a nice restaurant, if your finances allow it.  Or go tobogganing if you live where there is snow. There are a million more things you can do, but you get my drift. Whatever it is, this is something that is special and different and new for just you and your kids.  This is your new normal, your new thing!

I know that it is going to be hard the first time you don’t have your kids for Christmas. Trust me, there will be tears and sorrow and the pain of divorce will rear its ugly head yet again.  

But let me tell you this.  

You have 364 other days of the year to celebrate and enjoy your kids. It’s just one day.  They will be back.  Don’t mope and lament and cry in front of them.  They already have so much that they are dealing with, too. Divorce affects everybody, right down to the family dog.   

The truth is life is hard.  Divorce is hard.  But, you are an adult, so fucking grow up and deal with it. Your kids had no choice in this. You did. So remember they only have one childhood.  How about making beautiful memories for them and with them instead of letting the stress get to them, too. That, my friend, is the best gift you can give them.  

To Joy, Peace, and Love for you and your kids during this holiday season. I know you can do it because I did and I lived to write about it. There absolutely is hope!