True Parent 6

Build A Better Parent

The Indoorsy Type

Embracing the Worst Holiday Ever

Ask the Parent!

An iPad to Remember

The Secret Weapon

Parent to Parent

Christmas Comes but Twice a Year

A Mother Inside

The holidays are full of fun, excitement, and—oh, right—lots of stress and very personal family traditions. It all adds up to a potential minefield if you’re part of a blended family and dealing with expectations and emotions of ex-spouses, new partners, and kids who may feel caught in the middle. Whether you’re newly married, divorced, or somewhere in between, here’s how to make your holiday season a joyful one:

Pick your battles, and stay flexible: Keep a clear eye on traditions that are closest to your heart. Speak up for what you’d like—but realize you may not get everything you want.

Communicate with an open mind (and schedule): But you always eat Thanksgiving at 3 pm? I’m afraid your rigid schedule will have to go. Get together with your exes and current partners (either in person or via email, depending on your level of friendliness) and talk—calmly! Chances are, they also have some specific asks, and if you’re willing to be flexible on certain times and dates, they may be, too.

Don’t make your kids decide. You say: “Hey kids, do you want to spend Karamu with Mom or Dad this year?” Your kids hear: “Do you want to disappoint Mom or Dad?” While it’s nice to offer your kids some sense of control, don’t put the burden of decision making on them. Instead, why don’t you:

Create new traditions for your household: Reliving old memories is fun, but making new memories is even better—plus, they’ll be unique to you and your kids.

Take a breath (and a break) when needed: Getting frustrated? Feel like taking your (holiday) ball and going home? Clear your mind, and for the love of god, put down the social media. This is not the time for vaguebooking.

Holiday traditions—like families, like life—are always evolving. Case in point: After several years of getting into a nice groove with my husband and his ex, my brother and his girlfriend just welcomed a beautiful son into the world, which means we’re figuring out how to incorporate her extended family into our celebrations, too! So keep an eye on the big picture, and don’t get bogged down by arguments about whether you can serve Grandma Rose’s famous brisket, or in what order those stockings should be hung.

As for shopping for all those gifts? You’re on your own. Happy holidays!