For divorced families, the holidays often aren’t as full of joy and happiness as everyone hopes. In fact, they can be downright stressful — something parents can’t wait to be done with. Fortunately, if you’re looking ahead and sensing that you’ll have a stressful December in Maryland, there are a few tips that can help.

— Make sure you’re flexible. It’s much more fun if you don’t spend the holidays fighting. For example, be open to celebrating Christmas on Christmas Eve so that your ex can have the kids in the morning.

— Plan the schedule long before the holidays. Last-minute decisions often lead to disagreements. If you have the plan set in advance, you know what to expect. This way, you don’t plan on something only to see it stripped away when your ex had other plans.

— Along with the schedule, plan out your activities. Want to go to grandma’s house for cookies and presents? Thinking about going downtown to go ice skating or to a holiday show? Whatever you’re planning on, make that plan early so that nothing gets in the way.

— Don’t treat the kids like possessions. Remember that they also have feelings and desires. Don’t debate with your ex about what you’re going to do with them as if they are objects you can just trade back and forth. Talk to them, find out what they want this holiday season and make decisions to match. This ensures that there are fewer fights and that everyone has more fun.

Along with this, be sure that you know exactly what legal rights you have this Christmas.

Source: Huffington Post, “5 Tips for Divorced Families This Holiday Season,” Jamie Scrimgeour, Dec. 03, 2015