We’re already a few weeks into fall and Halloween is coming up fast (closely followed by, dare we say it, Thanksgiving and the start to the holiday season). But if you have kids and you’re recently divorced, you’re at the cusp of a particularly complex and often downright difficult time of year. We’re here to help you get through it with your kids’ best interest in mind.
Without a doubt, autumn is an extra fun time to have children. Hay rides, pumpkin carving, trick-or-treating on Halloween – the fall is loaded with great opportunities for family time. Everyone wants to share the fun, but it’s easy to get swept up by the added complexities of dividing the kids’ time among two different households.
How can you stay drama-free as you share the fall festivities with your ex? We compiled a few tips to keep it simple:
- Communicate with your ex about upcoming plans, and split up the fun. If your legal arrangement means you have the kids for Halloween, offer other festive events that are on your radar, such as friends’ parties and haunted houses. That way, both you and your ex get to see the kids in their costumes and celebrate with them in different ways.
- Avoid shedding negative light on your ex in front of the kids. This tip is one that’s important year-round, but it’s especially critical during holidays. Nothing minimizes the fun for kids like tension between their parents. Remember to focus on the joy of the festivities – not on your divorce – and make the most of your time with your children.
- Involve your kids in making Halloween plans. Maybe they want to do a hayride with you but hide behind Dad at the haunted house. Sometimes, you won’t know what they’re hoping for unless you ask. When appropriate, giving them some control over decisions can help them be more positive about the new post-divorce arrangements.
Consider establishing a holiday visitation schedule. If you haven’t already, you can break down the division of time during holidays as part of your divorce agreement. A holiday visitation schedule takes priority over the typical schedule that identifies where your children live on each day of the year. That way, there’s no stress over who has the kids year after year.
When you’re a divorced parent, having a successful Halloween (or any holiday) comes down to keeping your children’s happiness and well-being in mind. Encouraging other family members and friends to get involved in the Halloween fun is also a great way to reinforce a positive attitude through the season.
Safety should always be a priority on and around Halloween – no matter your plans and the level of amicability between you and your ex. Be sure you both know where and when your older kids will be out and about with friends. And if a child of any age shows signs of prolonged unhappiness after your divorce, be sure to seek professional help as soon as possible.
As always, feel free to share this newsletter with anyone who might find it useful. Have a happy and safe Halloween!
Tom and Melinda