The holidays can be overwhelming. Adding a custody or visitation conflict can make the holidays unbearable.
Here are three (3) tips to help you manage your side of the deal (as you cannot manage the other parent!)
(1) Know the holiday schedule.
The holiday visitation schedule takes precedence over the regular schedule. One parent may get two weekends in a row or time may not be equally divided. If the schedule does not comport with your family plans, notify the other parent and ask to work out alternative arrangement.
(2) Be flexible.
Do not get caught up in the "me, me, me" of the holidays. Your child or children have two holidays... and the better you are at accommodating their schedule the better off they will be. Put yourself in your child's shoes. Do not cause them to dread this time of year. Relax. Be gracious. Be flexible.
(3) Stress less.
Try to not sweat the small stuff. Often times after a divorce, new traditions will develop so both parents can celebrate a part of each holiday with their children. Be creative and think outside of the box. The Thanksgiving holiday can be more than just turkey on Thursday. If it isn't "your year" use the holiday time you are awarded to create new traditions on the days that you do have.
The best gift you can give your children over the holidays is to allow them to enjoy their time with both parents/sides of the family with as little stress as possible. They cannot be in two places in one time and can feel the stress and tension between you and the other parent. They inevitably feel caught in the middle and may feel that the cause of your stress and angst is their fault.
Use any free time you may have over the holidays to relax and refocus on yourself. Once you recharge, you will have the ability to face your new set of circumstances with a renewed strength which will allow you to again find joy and peace over the holidays and beyond.