When one of your all-time favorite magazines (and one of the world’s leading publications) delights in your story of co-parenting, it’s pretty flattering. So I was beyond honored to share some of my tips of surviving and thriving the holidays when divorced with kids with my friends at Vogue. As always, my hope is that sharing my experiences might inspire others to embrace their own unconventional families with a progressive, loving mindset! XX
We make choices jointly regarding what’s best for the kids.
Kyle and I decided early on that we would co-parent, and this time of the year has been easier to navigate as a result. Thanksgiving tends to change from year to year based on extended family and travel schedules, but the one holiday that has always meant the most to me and remained a constant is Christmas. It was important to us that the kids wake up in the same place every year on December 25. We wanted to protect the bedtime rituals, their Santa visit, the surprise in their eyes, and the chaos of unwrapping. It is a sacred time to cherish.
We establish who is doing what where early.
Kyle was supportive of having Christmas at my house from the beginning, and I am grateful for his selflessness. The boys do so much back and forth from my home to their dad’s that we already feel a little guilty. Our work lives are so busy that we don’t have a set schedule for this, so having a concrete tradition when it comes to Christmas is really nice. Not only do our sons wake up in the same home year after year to the same warm traditions, but Kyle and his wife, Sarah, rise incredibly early and drive over to my house to watch the magic unfold. It is rare and truly meaningful.
We don’t freak out if we double up on gifts.
I wish I could say that I was ridiculously organized and had a complete handle on the gifting, but typically about halfway through December, Kyle and I start to realize that we’ve overlapped on a few presents and gotten the kids some of the same things. It’s almost unavoidable. But eventually we start sharing what’s been marked off whose list, and it works itself out in the end. And if one of our sons really, really loves that vintage Spider-Man poster we both got him, why wouldn’t he want one at each house? It’s not the end of the world. There are also years when we team up and go in on the big gifts together. That’s fun, too.
When new significant others entered the picture, we made sure it was respectful from the start.
Kyle married Sarah a few years after we divorced, and I married Rhys in 2011. When I describe our co-parenting, I’m really describing the way all four of us come together as a unit. Sarah knew the playing field from the get-go and was enthusiastically supportive of our modern-day family. The same goes for Rhys, and he and Kyle became fast friends.
Everyone knows his or her role.
Our significant others never tried to be the boys’ stand-in parents. Rhys never tried to be their “dad”; he knew they had one already who was actively involved in their day-to-day lives.
We focus on the long-term benefits.
The holidays can be really hard on divided families after divorce, because no matter what, sharing kids means you see less of them. If it’s your former spouse’s turn to host the kids and you won’t be there, it can be painful, but try to focus on the end goal. Obviously, there are specific circumstances, but hopefully, in the long run, the kids are benefiting greatly by having a bond with both parents, and that’s what is important. We always try to keep this in mind.