The holiday season is a time for making memories with family and friends, to revel in the peace and goodwill of this special time of year, and watch the little ones enjoy the magic of the season. It is a truly wonderful time of year, but if you have shared custody of your children, the holidays might not feel so wonderful. In the face of celebrating a holiday differently than in years past, you can still enjoy the season and use this as an opportunity to show your children how well you can handle a new holiday situation.

Plan ahead.

When it comes to ensuring quality time with your child over the holidays, don’t play things by ear. It might seem easy to verbally agree your child will spend Thanksgiving with your ex and the Christmas holiday with you. This is a great plan in theory until your former in-laws come into town and want to see the kids over Christmas. Planning and having steady communication is the best way to avoid unpleasant surprises that can ruin any holiday. Do not wait until days before the holidays to revisit your custody agreement and ensure that it still works best for everyone. Knowledge of what is about to take place is empowering and comforting for kids and parents. Be sure to stay open-minded and listen to all opinions and viewpoints.

Keep an open mind.

Consider out-of-the-box and non-conventional ideas to get everyone through the holidays as peacefully as possible. Dividing the holiday days in half is a possible solution. This way, no one misses out on any magical moments, and your child gets to spend equal time with mom and dad. However, splitting the days in half requires some extra planning and preparation. A lot of their time may be spent being shuffled back and forth, and that may not be the most enjoyable day for them. The welfare of your child is the most important part of this situation, so it may not be the best solution for them to be in the car all day or be kept up late while going back and forth.

Pack accordingly.

If travel is involved, the less baggage and less-packed agenda, the better. Help your children pack wisely and efficiently for the holidays. Ensure they have everything that will make them feel comfortable and happy wherever they end up for the holidays. Discuss with your former partner a travel itinerary that does not have them worn out and miserable upon their return from the celebrations.

Don’t feel guilty.

If you are preparing for a holiday without your children, do not put pressure on them or yourself to feel guilt over being apart. Keep in mind that a holiday can be celebrated on a day other than the calendar day. Giving thanks during the weekend after Thanksgiving is okay and this new style is something you and your family may have to adapt to going forward.