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Blended Families: Celebrating the holidays

How do you celebrate the holidays when blending families? With sensitivity and creativity, you can develop new traditions and routines. Read below to gain perspective and ideas.

Blended families: Celebrating the holidays

Today's ParentBy Dawn Calleja | Today’s Parent

 love Christmas. Yup, I’m one of those people: belting out schlocky tunes in the car, searching for the perfect ceiling-scraper of a tree, bawling my way through It’s a Wonderful Life. But the emotional and logistical strain wrapped up with the holidays at our house – courtesy of my husband’s four kids from two exes, in addition to our own two little ones – can bring out the Scrooge in me.

There was the time my husband’s then-five-year-old son called to tell us excitedly about the Pokémon toy Santa had delivered – the exact same one waiting for him under our tree. Or the year a tipsy ex-number-one called in the middle of our Christmas Eve party to shout that there was no way she was driving downtown to pick up the kids the next day. You get the picture.

Even for the most happily married couples, the holidays can be fraught with conflict and compromise. It can be exponentially more complicated for the approximately 776,000 Canadian parents who are divorced or separated and raising kids without a new partner. Then there are the blended families – almost 13 percent of Canada’s 3.7 million two-parent families are stepfamilies, like mine. Negotiating how to share the kids is never easy, but this is a time of year when it can be hardest to let go. “Christmas is a tough time because there is a lot of tradition and ritual around how the holidays are managed,” says Deborah Moskovitch, author of The Smart Divorce, a book she was inspired to write after her own acrimonious split. “But you have to share it. That’s how you have to look at effective co-parenting.”

Here’s how to ensure your festive season is filled with merriment – not resentment – this year. 

Make a plan

If you haven’t set a holiday schedule by the time you read this, do it now. “You don’t want the kids to have any angst about what they’re going to be doing at Christmas,” says Moskovitch, who also founded a divorce coaching service. Sit down with your ex and bring a calendar (and, if necessary, a neutral third party, like a professional mediator or trusted mutual friend) to figure out exactly how you’re going to divvy up the holiday break, right down to whether the kids are being picked up or dropped off, at what time, and the things they’ll need to pack. “It can be fluid and change, but it gets rid of any miscommunication,” says Moskovitch.

Trevor Pereira and his ex-wife made their Christmas schedule part of the separation agreement they drew up seven years ago. In even years, he has their two kids for Christmas Eve and morning, then hands them off at noon. In odd years, he picks them up from their mom’s house, still in their pyjamas, and takes them home for brunch and more presents. (To help avoid the aforementioned Pokémon scenario, Pereira and his ex go over the kids’ wish lists together each year to decide who’s going to buy what and how much they’ll spend.) “It’s sad either way,” admits Pereira, an IT specialist from Brantford, Ont. “Either you don’t have them in the morning or you don’t have them in the evening. But at least we both still see them on Christmas Day.”

Luckily for Pereira and his ex, they live in the same town. For co-parents who live in different cities, or even different provinces, it’s not so simple. If you have to kiss your kids goodbye for the entire holiday, says Moskovitch, “make sure you can call and talk to them. They’ll want to know you’re OK.”

To read the whole article click here

How did you blend your family…..please share your new traditions, routines and ideas.

Wishing you all the best for the holiday season!


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Divorcing Santa – Coparenting Through the Holidays Post-Divorce

My colleague Traci Whitney, founder of  Two Happy Homes has kindly submitted this article.

Please share your thoughts….how do you celebrate the holidays?

Wishing all my readers happy holidays and all the very best……Deborah

By Traci Whitney

Divorce is tough through any time of the year, but getting through the holidays post-divorce can be particularly rough.
This a time of year when you no doubt have a lot of mixed emotions about your ex, and maybe even some holiday memories, but whether they bring fond or sour feelings, this is the time when it’s necessary best to put the children first. Even though you may feel like steering clear of your ex right now, there is a lot going on with the kids, so you may have no choice but to work through some seasonal logistics. Being an excellent co-parent through the holidays may take a little extra effort, but it will make this time of year more peaceful for the whole family, including yourself.
Here are a few tips for peaceful coparenting through the holiday season…
1. Plan the parenting schedule ahead of time. Now is the time to be talking about who gets the kids when over the holidays. Chances are, you already have these days figured out in your parenting plan. But if you don’t, then get this discussion out of the way now so that you both know what to expect when the holidays are upon us. This way you can let any other loved ones know what the schedule is, and everyone can plan accordingly. Getting the parenting schedule out of the way now allows you to enjoy the holidays later.
2. Make two lists, check them twice. If your kids make wish lists for presents – have them make two separate lists – one for each house. If there is one “master” list, then it can create stress between parents… Who saw it first? Who gets to pick out the kids top choices for gifts? Is there enough gifts on the list for two homes to split? What if you buy duplicates and the kids get upset about that?… it can get downright crazy. Have the kids make two lists, or if everyone is agreeable to one parent splitting the list between homes then that is fine too. Tell the kids ahead of time that if they get the same gift at both houses then that’s ok, sometimes just a little heads up can diffuse the situation ahead of time.
3. Communicate with your coparent about gifts for the kids. If your teen really wants to get concert tickets, and you’re considering shelling out a significant amount of money to buy them for her, then it’s best to make sure that your ex doesn’t have the same plan in mind. Keeping in touch now can make sure you avoid possible conflicts during the holidays, and we want to kids to enjoy them as much as possible.
4. Consider splitting the costs for big ticket items, but only if that item is easily shared between the two homes. Don’t agree to pitch in to buy a child a bike or a pet if it can really only stay at one house, this may lead to resentment later on between parents. A doll, electronic toy, or books can entertain kids at either house.
5. Don’t stress about spending money. There are a lot of resources out there for cutting costs over the holidays. One of my favorite places for finding new ideas is Pinterest. Check out blogs for tips on how to save money on gifts. This is an area that you have control of, in a post-divorce world that is not always easy to control, so take advantage of it and do some research and planning early. That way you can enjoy the holidays instead of dreading them!
6. Don’t put the kids in the middle. This is a special time of year for kids, and if you and your coparent are arguing about schedules or gifts, then the magic can be sucked right out of the holiday pretty quickly. Make sure to keep any discussions private so that your kids can enjoy the holidays stress-free.
7. ‘Tis the season to be jolly. This is my favorite time of year, and I’ll admit that being divorced, dealing with family schedules, blended family issues, etc., etc.,  can be quite stressful. Take some time to do the things you love around the holidays, even if that means springing for a babysitter for a few hours so you can have some time to yourself. For me, this means wrapping presents with some eggnog and watching It’s a Wonderful Life – simple, but this is something that I have made my own tradition post-divorce, just for me. I also take time to create traditions for just me and the kids, so they have the joy (and stability) of memories created year after year.

 


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Special for Clients, Friends, Fans and Followers of The Smart Divorce

Divorce Party the Musical: The hilarious journey to hell……and back!

Divorce is emotional, it’s fraught with fear and uncertainty, something definitely not to poke fun at or take lightly.  But, given what we know, and  how devastating divorce may be, this can also be a time to reach out and bring some humour into life, if only for an evening.

I share this play because it treats divorce with dignity, while providing  friendly fun……a night of entertainment and a temporary escape from reality. And,  a special offer of savings for the event. Read below…….

To learn more about The Smart Divorce visit www.thesmartdivorce.com

The Smart Divorce is your one stop shop for cost effective divorce support


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Holidays Alone and New Traditions

Divorce Source Radio’s Steve Peck has a discussion on spending the holidays alone, with DSR The Smart Divorce host, author and divorce consultant, Deborah Moskovitch.

We share our different backgrounds as we discuss Deborah’s experience of being alone during Hanukkah, and Steve’s during Christmas.  We also touch on the difficulty of being newly divorced at other major life events and celebrations.

As the program progresses, we become a bit more philosophical, as we discuss why and how couples fall out of love in the first place.  And we ask the question, “Are those in high conflict divorces actually more in love with their spouses, and soon-to-be exes, than those who divorce with a mutual understanding that they have both simply fallen out of love?”  What do you think?  Write us your thoughts at DivorceSourceRadio@gmail.com. We’d love to hear from you.

To listen, tune in to:

http://www.divorcesourceradio.com/spending-holidays-alone-and-beginning-new-traditions/


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The Smart Way to Celebrate the Holidays

Making It Through The Holidays — Alone and Content

This article can be found on The Huffington Post

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deborah-moskovitch/making-it-through-the-hol_b_975160.html

The Jewish High Holidays are just days away, Thanksgiving is just around the corner and I’m sure many are counting down the shopping days until Christmas. Celebrating holidays can be a stressful time when you’re divorced — but it doesn’t need to be.
If you find yourself without your children or extended family at a time when you traditionally celebrated with them, it can be a sad and lonely experience without them now. Who says you have to celebrate those days the traditional route or the way you celebrated when you were married? If you find yourself alone, create new meaning for these celebrations and enjoy them on your own terms.

Here are some tips to get you through these celebrations:

Create new traditions. If the old traditions are too painful to follow, let them go. Instead of trying to re-create the past, create your own positive future. Throw your own party and invite friends or family who have nowhere to go during this time.

Make a special effort to take care of yourself physically and emotionally. Don’t try drowning your sorrows with alcohol or food. Doing anything to excess when you are sad or worried is rarely a smart move.

Be good to yourself. Go for a manicure or massage, buy a great CD, catch up on your favorite hobby. Treat yourself the way you would treat a good friend or family member.

If you are feeling overwhelmed and vulnerable, speak with a trusted friend, therapist or someone in your support group.

Plan ahead. If it looks like you’re going to be spending the time on your own, find an interesting activity or a place to travel so you can be with other people.

Surround yourself with people, whether from your support network, your family, your church or synagogue. You may even be able to attend a special support group holiday function.

Contemplate how you would like your life to look like post-divorce and write down what you need to do to get there. Start doing one of those things now.

Stay in control by making lists of what you need to do and checking each item off as you accomplish it.

Use any time alone to do the things you’ve been putting off — catching up on paperwork; catching up on sleep; reading the great book that’s been sitting unopened for weeks or months; calling the friend you’ve been meaning to reconnect with.

If putting on a dinner or party in the family home doesn’t feel right, try doing something for others off site. For example, you could visit a retirement home and read to those whose families can’t be with them during the holidays.

Continue to make the holidays special for your children. Include them in developing new traditions. Ask them how they would like to celebrate.

Plan ahead how your children are going to spend the holidays. Avoid the stress of figuring things out last minute. This will give you a sense of comfort, relief and control.

Be creative and flexible. If your children are not celebrating the holidays with you, think about making another day during holiday time a special day together.

If your children are going to be with their other parent, phone them and wish them a happy holiday. Let them know that you are thinking about them.

Don’t make your children feel that they have to take care of you during this special time. Send them the message that the holidays are a special time and you want them to enjoy themselves.

Spare the occasional good thought for your ex. Your marriage likely had some good moments. Remembering those times occasionally will help you lift yourself out of your bitterness about your current situation.

Wishing everyone good health, happiness and prosperity; peace and love.


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A New Year, A Smarter You

Welcoming in the New Year as newly single, divorced or separated, brings new meaning for many.  Some feel free and happy, and others might still be grieving the many losses experienced through separation/divorce. Despite how you may feel, divorce is rich in opportunity to learn and grown from.

What can you do change how you feel, shake it up…. feel optimistic and start rebuilding your life? Setting goals, and reflecting on what you have learned will help to move forward with focus, hope and confidence.

Think about what you want out of life and the things you need to do to get you there — then create your wish list, and start following your goals to reach your objectives.

§  Set realistic goals of what you would like to accomplish this year.

§  Make a top 5 list of your objectives.

§  Take your list and write out what you need to do to get there.

§  January 1 – start doing one of the things on your list now, to begin achieving your objectives.

Wishing you much luck and happiness for a smart, wonderful and fulfilling 2011


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Home alone for the holidays?

“It’s the holiday season and once again, I am dreading the feeling of being alone.” I hear this sentiment expressed all too often from many divorcées—be it at the beginning of their separation, or from those that have been divorced for years. 

Is it possible to embrace the feeling of aloneness and actually do something positive about it?  You bet it is.

Who says you have to celebrate those days the traditional route or the way you celebrated when you were married? If you find yourself alone, create new meaning for these celebrations and enjoy them on your own terms. Here are some tips to get you through these celebrations.

  • Make a special effort to take care of yourself physically and emotionally. Don’t try drowning your sorrows with alcohol or food.  Doing anything to excess when you are sad or worried is rarely a smart move.
  • Be good to yourself. Go for a manicure or massage, buy a great CD, catch up on your favorite hobby. Treat yourself the way you would treat a good friend or family member. 
  • If you are feeling overwhelmed and vulnerable, speak with a trusted friend, therapist or someone in your support group.
  • Plan ahead. If it looks like you’re going to be spending the time on your own, find an interesting activity or a place to travel so you can be with other people.
  • Surround yourself with people, whether from your support network, your family, your church or synagogue. You may even be able to attend a special support group holiday function.
  • Contemplate how you would like your life to look like post-divorce and write down what you need to do to get there. Start doing one of those things now.
  • Stay in control by making lists of what you need to do and checking each item off as you accomplish it.
  • Use any time alone to do the things you’ve been putting off — catching up on paperwork; catching up on sleep; reading the great book that’s been sitting unopened for weeks or months; calling the friend you’ve been meaning to reconnect with.
  • If putting on a dinner or party in the family home doesn’t feel right, try doing something for others off site. For example, you could visit a retirement home and read to those whose families can’t be with them during the holidays.
  • Continue to make the holidays special for your children. Include them in developing new traditions. Ask them how they would like to celebrate. 
  • Plan ahead how your children are going to spend the holidays. Avoid the stress of figuring things out last minute. This will give you a sense of comfort, relief and control.
  • Be creative and flexible. If your children are not celebrating the holidays with you, think about making another day during holiday time a special day together.
  • If your children are going to be with their other parent, phone them and wish them a happy holiday. Let them know that you are thinking about them.
  • Don’t make your children feel that they have to take care of you during this special time. Send them the message that the holidays are a special time and you want them to enjoy themselves.
  • Spare the occasional good thought for your ex.  Your marriage likely had some good moments. Remembering those times occasionally will help you lift yourself out of your bitterness about your current situation.

 

Wishing everyone good health, happiness and prosperity; peace and love.


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Getting ready to move into the New Year

Reflections and Resolutions……….

As I look back at what I have accomplished in 2009 and think about what I want to do in 2010, setting tasks and objectives, to keep me focused, will help me achieve my goals.

What might you do to achieve your goals?  Make a list – what do you want to do…….

§  Set realistic goals of what you would like to accomplish this year.

§  Make a top 5 list of your objectives.

§  Take your list and write out what you need to do to get there.

§  January 1 – start doing one of those things to help you achieve your objectives.

Think about what you want out of life and start doing the thingsyou need to, to get you there.

Wishing you much luck and happiness for a smart, wonderful and fulfilling 2010


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An ending to 2008 and a new beginning…….

Reflections and Resolutions……….

As I look back at what I have accomplished in 2008 and think about what I want to do in 2009, I realize that setting goals and objectives, to keep me focused, will help me achieve my dreams.

As the Nike slogan says – Just Do It – Meaning stop wondering about what you would do to make you happier, make a list of those things that will bring you happiness and start doing something about it now.  How are you going to accomplish this?

§  Set realistic goals of what you would like to accomplish this year.

§  Make a top 5 list of your objectives.

§  Take your list and write out what you need to do to get there.

§  January 1 – start doing one of those things to help you achieve your objectives.

Think about what you want out of life and start doing the things

you need to, to get you there.

Wishing you much luck and happiness for a smart, wonderful and fulfilling 2009


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Watch Deborah on Breakfast Television

The Smart Divorce – Live

 

Tune in to hear me talk about coping through the holiday season…..If you haven’t seen the show “Breakfast Television” on Citytv, you may want to watch it on Monday, November 24, 2008 at 6am – 9am. I am scheduled to be on anytime after 7am. This is a live-to-air show bringing you detailed traffic, precise weather, sports updates, and entertainment plus all the hard news you really need!

 

Listen to Deborah provide tips and strategies for getting through the holidays when divorced – and how to cope through this time, which can be difficult for some people.

 

Breakfast Television airs on Citytv across Ontario.