The holidays can be a very stressful time for even the happiest of families. For Tennessee families that are in the process of a divorce or have recently completed their proceedings and are now approaching their first holiday season with a child custody order in place, the stress levels can go off the charts.

But you can do some things to prepare yourself and minimize your stress. First, recognize that this year will be different. That does not mean worse, it means different and you will have to begin to create new traditions and experiences for your children. By designing a comprehensive parenting plan for you and your children, you can help set expectations properly and prevent misunderstandings from becoming open conflicts.

Remember, your former spouse is still your children’s other parent and always will be, so minimize your commentary on their behavior and if your children discuss having had fun with them, allow them to have that experience and don’t criticize or belittle it out of your own emotional discomfort.

Organization can be important; by knowing where your children will be during the holidays can help to allow things to move smoothly. You need to work actively to maximize your time with your children, spending it productively on making new memories and traditions that your children will value.

The holidays are still likely to be stressful, as you rush from one event to another and add the exchanges involving your children. But knowing in advance how things will work will help to reduce that stress and leave your children with a truly happy and memorable holiday season.