5 Steps for Happy Holidays amid Divorce and COVID-19

When I think of the holidays in years past, I recall vivid memories of family and fellowship, joy and laughter, and delicious meals and tasty treats we shared.

Then, I remember the stress of preparing for the holidays: planning meal menus, guest lists, grocery and gift shopping…it’s enough to raise my blood pressure just thinking about it!

Add the novel coronavirus to this year’s mix, and it’s crystal clear that the holidays will look much different than usual. Not only is COVID-19 a major health concern, it is a serious stress factor, especially in families experiencing a divorce.

As a divorce coach, a divorce mediator and a family mediator, I have compiled 5 tips for happy holidays amid divorce and COVID-19.

1.      Focus on the Best Interests of the Children.  This has been a tough year for everyone, especially children. They have had the safety of their routine disrupted in many ways… virtual school, face masks, minimal playdates, lack of organized sports, etc. Try to minimize conflict by picking your battles with your co-parent. Hold your children close and focus on those things that bring your family peace, love and joy!

2.      Review your Co-Parenting Agreement. Chances are your parenting plan was not written with COVID-19 in sight. Make sure the agreement still makes sense for this unusual 2020 holiday season. If you and your co-parent cannot agree on necessary changes, seek the assistance of a neutral third party, such as a mediator.

3.      Listening is Love. The holidays can be stressful, even in the best of times, but when combined with divorce and COVID-19, the stress can become overwhelming. Take a step back and prepare by brushing-up on your active and reflective listening skills. Listen to what the other person is saying and then ask, “What I’m hearing you say is….” and repeat their meaning in your own words. Then ask, “Is this correct?” They will feel heard and understood, and your conversation will likely take an empathic turn. Effective communication with co-parents, teens, children and extended family members is important and can prevent unnecessary arguments.

4.      Set Rules Now and Make Plans Accordingly. Think through the health and safety guidelines that you feel are in the best interest of your children and family. The primary concerns during the planning phase include the size of your family gathering(s); who to invite (immediate, extended, and/or elderly family members, who may be among the most vulnerable); a safe location indoors or outdoors to allow for social distancing; travel restrictions, etc.

5.      Consider Unprecedented Holiday Traditions for an Unprecedented Holiday year. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box for healthy, safe and fun activities to replace large family gatherings and public events. Take a holiday walk in your neighborhood to enjoy the lights and decorations. Have older children research a fun holiday activity from another country that your family could safely enjoy, like ice skating, baking holiday goodies, holiday movie nights or almost any activity you can enjoy doing together. You might just discover that the true meaning of Christmas is the peace, love and joy of your family!

Successful Solution was established to provide divorce mediation and family mediation services in a neutral forum to help spouses and families deal with conflict, improve communication, solve problems and reach mutual agreements. I currently offer online mediation, because it is safe, convenient and provides flexibility in scheduling to include evenings and weekends. Plus, couples can participate from the privacy and comfort of their own home(s) or place(s) of business.

Divorces are never easy and impact entire families.  Mediation helps to improve communication between spouses and de-escalate stress and conflict. Mediation is, also, a more affordable way to help heal families in a less volatile platform than litigation. That’s my goal as a mediator in the Tampa Bay area and throughout Florida. Contact me today for a FREE consultation to avoid litigation and reach a Successful Solution. 727.222.3686