Skip to Content
Leaders in Family Matters

When It's Not Your Holiday With Your Child - Find The Joy Regardless!

Mother, Daughter Christmas Globe

When It's Not Your Holiday With Your Child:
Odd Vs Even Years - How To Find Joy Regardless

The holidays can be challenging for co-parents. While it is supposed to be a time of celebration and joy, when your child is not with you every day, the holidays may feel lackluster. Most co-parents have to share holiday time, which usually means alternating Thanksgiving and Christmas and the other holidays throughout the year. If you get one of the big ones, you probably don’t get the other. When it’s not your year for Christmas or any other holiday, it can feel like you are missing an important time in your child’s life. Making an effort to keep the following at the forefront of your mind may help ease the sting of an alternating holiday schedule.

You can celebrate anytime! Your child will enjoy a holiday celebration even if you do it a few days before or after the holiday. Christmas, for example, can be celebrated with your child on the 23rd or 26th of December. Maybe Santa comes early for a child with two houses because he knows your child won’t be home on the actual day. Create holiday memories that your child anticipates and cherishes a few days before or after Christmas. Children want to continue traditions whether they are with a parent for that holiday or not. It can be just as special and memorable to your child no matter what day of the calendar you decide to celebrate the holiday. Only children with two homes get two Christmas mornings!

Focus on you and others. When the holiday arrives and you find yourself missing your child, stay busy and focus on yourself and any extended family you will be with. Make plans for yourself with friends and overbook your social calendar so you can avoid spending too much time thinking of the absence of your child. Think about the holiday traditions that mean the most with your child and start planning for the next year to make it even more memorable when it is your year with them. Look into dates to schedule events that often sell out early like a special train ride to the North Pole or going to the theater to see a Christmas show.

Schedule a FaceTime for the holiday. Work with your co-parent to determine the best time for a FaceTime with your child and let your child see you happy and excited to hear about how they are celebrating with the other parent. If they see you sad and negative about it not being your year for Christmas, they likely won’t be able to enjoy the holiday as much as they otherwise would have and will spend it worrying about you and feeling guilty for having fun without you.

Compare schedules with your co-parent. Talk to your co-parent to see if there is room for both of you to attend any holiday events together with your child. Maybe your child really wants to participate in an activity or attend an event where it would mean the world to them to have you both there. Maybe it’s a busy enough event that you can comfortably both attend without overly interacting with your co-parent beyond your comfort level. Sometimes just knowing both parents are attending an important event brings joy and excitement to your child, and you can both be there to witness it without really engaging with each other. Alternatively, if you can spend actual holiday time around your co-parent, this can be an incredibly effective way for your child to see that life can go on with some normalcy even post-divorce or separation. Hang in there and remember, you get the next one! And you are not alone.