If you're facing your first holiday season as a divorced parent, you're likely experiencing a mix of emotions. Even if this isn't your first December as a part-time single parent, the idea of not being with your kids for all of their holiday celebrations can be difficult. There are things you can do to make things easier for yourself and your children.
You should have a holiday custody and visitation schedule in place as part of your larger custody agreement (or time sharing plan, as we call it in Florida). It's essential to stick to that plan and ensure that your kids know and understand it. They want to know which parent they'll be with on what days and if any special activities are planned, like a visit with grandparents or a day at the beach.
If you won't get to be with your kids on Christmas Day, New Year's Eve or other special days during the season, create your own traditions and celebrations. If your kids are old enough, find out what they'd like to do during your time together. There are plenty of things you can do together to celebrate the season and spend time together.
Don't expect everything to go perfectly. If you're doing this for the first time as a single parent, not all of your plans and ideas for your time with your kids are going to go over as well as you'd like. They don't expect perfection. They just want to spend time with you and have fun.
Make plans for yourself. If you're going to have some time off work that you'd normally spend with your children, but you'll be on your own, make the most of it. Make plans with friends or family. Find out where you can volunteer in your area. Catch a couple of movies that have been getting rave reviews. If you're busy with your own life, you won't have time to sit around being depressed about not being with your kids.
After the holiday season is over, if you believe some changes need to be made to your time-sharing agreement to help things go more smoothly next year, talk with your attorney to find out what your best options are.