Divorce or breaking up is a time of adjustment, especially for parents. For many, the kids were the biggest reason to stay in the marriage or relationship, and now they find themselves seeing the children less frequently. This change can be especially difficult during the holiday season.
If you’re a newly single parent, don’t fret. Divorce is a time of loss, but it is also a great time of opportunity. You now have the chance to create new traditions for yourself and your children.
Last month, we focused on scheduling during the holidays. Now, we’d like to talk about activities and plans that can make the holidays fun for everyone.
Here are 7 helpful holiday tips for single parents.
- Plan Ahead
The last thing you want is conflict during the holidays. Make sure to regularly communicate plans and expectations with your ex. This can make the practical parts of the season less stressful and help keep everyone focused on what’s important: having fun and spending time together.
Forethought can also help protect you emotionally. It may be difficult for you to see your ex, and you can build that reality into your plan. Create limited times of interaction. That way, you know exactly when you will see them, and you can prepare for those moments. Also, it keeps you from seeing them for longer than you need.
- Involve the Kids
Remember, this is a difficult time of adjustment for them as well. Let them know that this is their holiday too, by including them. Ask them what they want to do. Tell them what you are and are not capable of, so they know what to expect. Whenever kids feel involved, they tend to be more invested in the outcome.
You can also take this time to acknowledge and address any anxieties they have about the season. They may be worried about travel, missing the other parent, and so on. Let them know that these feelings are okay and that you have some worries as well. Doing so can help decrease some of this tension and draw you closer together.
- Don’t Compete
Your time with the kids is yours, and the other parent’s time is theirs. Don’t worry about what they’re doing. Focus on yourself and your time with the children.
You can also discuss a spending limit with the other parent. This can help keep anyone from looking like the “winner” during the holiday season.
- Maintain Old Traditions
Remember a couple of old cliches:
- “Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.”
- “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
It may not be possible to continue all the same holiday traditions, or doing so may just be too hard emotionally. However, there is probably something you can preserve from before.
Maintaining former traditions, when possible, can help create a sense of comfort. It lets the kids know that the family is continuing, but it just looks a little different now.
- Scale Things Down
Chances are, you probably have fewer people to entertain, feed, and buy gifts. There is a sadness to this fact, but there is also a freedom here. You don’t have to “go all out.” Your holiday can be smaller, quieter, and more focused on the kids. Remember, spending time with one another is the most important part of the holidays.
- Stay Positive
Try not to complain too much about how things used to be. Focus on the fact that this is the next phase of your life and work toward finding the excitement in that.
Most importantly, don’t put your negative feelings on the kids. They don’t need to see your disappointment or anger about their spending time with the other parent. It creates guilt and shame for them, and it puts them in a position to “choose” one parent over the other.
- Make Time for Yourself!
Maybe you won’t have the kids throughout the season, and maybe that’s difficult for you. However, you also have an opportunity to celebrate your way with no rules or restrictions. Create new traditions that are just for you. Spend time with people you want to see, not those you feel obligated to see. Every difficult time presents an opportunity, and this can be your chance to reconnect with your desires and needs.