Holidays are often filled with joy and excitement for children but can also be a source of pain and sadness when the family is no longer together. Navigating two households during the holidays requires adults to put their own feelings aside and focus on the children first. Here are five simple steps to assist in keeping the holidays special for everyone involved.
- Start new traditions – This is a big one. This is an opportunity to break out of the traditional rut and start something new – something fun and new. Your children are experiencing the new tradition of sharing their holidays with more than one household. Make that a fun and exciting opportunity for them so they look forward to celebrating the holiday more than once. And while you’re at it, start a new tradition for yourself too. Take a mini-vacation to a local spa or celebrate the day with friends or take a much needed day to yourself and enjoy the time alone. Hike the woods. See a grown-up movie. Start a new hobby. Think outside the box – it is your opportunity to dream up exactly how you want to spend the holidays.
- No holiday blues – This is the most important one. Do not let your children see you miserable because misery loves company and your children will be the first ones to join you. Share your enthusiasm and excitement with your children, even if you have to fake it. The first year is the hardest but if you focus on the beauty of the season and your children’s excitement, each following year will get easier.
- Start planning early – This is a tough one. If you are not looking forward to the holidays without your children, you may find yourself procrastinating and putting off making plans. Start planning early and reach out to friends and family to get the excitement building around your new traditions. Do not be afraid to admit that you are looking for ideas to make the season new and unforgettable. You will be amazed at how people are looking for someone else to toss out an idea and will be eager to join in. Make sure you communicate with your former partner so your plans with the children do not conflict.
- Get the kids involved – If your children are old enough, let them get involved in the planning of new traditions. They might surprise you. Children enjoy the experience of the whole holiday season as much as or even more than the big day. Allow yourself to enjoy the holiday in any way you choose that works best for your new family. Instead of fantasizing about how the holiday should look, seize the opportunity to experience something outside of your comfort zone. Take the kids ice skating or build a campfire in the backyard and roast marshmallows while singing holidays songs. Take the kids to a holiday movie in their pajamas. Little things can become the best lifelong memories for everyone.
- Do not overbook your life – Starting new traditions does not mean you should plan an event every night for a month. With shopping, parties, and winter break, the kids can end up tired and cranky. Plan a few fun things that will not wear them out such as decorating a gingerbread house or making reindeer food for Santa’s reindeer. Many children love wrapping gifts. They may not be perfect, but they will be special. Drag out the ribbon and bows and let the kids wrap, wrap, wrap…and remember to buy extra tape. Kids use a lot of tape on their packages! Or take an extra 30 minutes to snuggle in bed with your kids and talk about whatever they want.
Most importantly, remember that you’re making memories for yourself and your children. Do not put too much pressure on yourself and remember to smile and enjoy the time with your children. If the kids see you happy, then they will be happy too.
By: Donna K. Baslee