The holiday season can be challenging during a separation, however, careful planning and communication with your former partner can help make the season a smooth one.

Start planning early! I have noticed that conflict arises when parents wait until the last minute to arrange an event with the children. During the holidays our lives are already overscheduled with festive parties and events and dinners. It is considerate to take a look at each of your calendars and choose a day and time that would work best at least a few weeks or months ahead of time. This way you each can arrange your other activities around this important family time. If you do not have minor children, be sure to plan activities with family and friends so that you do not find yourself bored or alone this holiday season.

Be flexible! Life happens and we can choose to be upset or understanding when arrangements need to be changed. If you find that your plans need to be rescheduled, let the other person know as soon as possible and offer another date. If your former partner needs to rearrange plans, don’t assume bad intentions, simply offer to reschedule and be as open as possible to alternative ways that allow time together.

Be creative! If you have children, the easy option is to simply alternate holidays with each parent. Why not consider sharing a holiday meal or activity together, even if it is during the other parents “time”? Many mediation clients find it truly benefits their children to spend an hour or so together with both parents at a festive gathering especially during a time of transition.

Start new traditions! Consider starting new traditions this year, if the old tradition of opening presents with both parents on Christmas morning is not going to work, try something different such as Christmas Eve or the day after Christmas. If you are unable to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner together, use the leftovers by having turkey sandwiches the next day together with the children.

Even if your family is separating over the holidays, with some planning and creativity you can ease the transition for your former partner and children. If you would like more information on mediating your divorce, separation, child custody or support issues during the holidays, please click here to schedule a consultation.