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Single Parent Holiday Primer
The holidays are hard on most parents, but single parents face special challenges. Whether you have been recently divorced or widowed, there are some steps you can take to reduce stress during the holidays and give your children a fun holiday despite the change. Here are some tips to try this holiday season.
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1. Mix old traditions with new traditions
The absence of the missing parent is most obvious when you do traditions that you used to do as an entire family. However, continuity is comforting and important to help children adjust. So to deal with these two issues, carry on some of your family’s traditions but start some new ones as well. Holding on to old traditions can help your children see that while your family has changed, some essential things remain this same. This is a comfort to children. Starting new traditions can be a welcome foray into the “new” family that you have become.
2. Make sure your children have a gift for their other parent.
If the situation in your family is divorce and your children still have contact with their other parent, help your children pick out a gift for the other parent. This is important for both the child and for you. In doing so, you demonstrate to your children that you still have concern for their other parent. And because co-parenting is difficult and can bring additional stress into your relationship with your former spouse, a gift is a goodwill gesture that can alleviate some tension.
3. Don’t overdo it.
Keeping your holiday celebrations simple but meaningful can save you a lot of stress and allow you to be more emotionally available to your children. Instead of preparing an elaborate dinner, for example, make some soup with your children’s help. Instead of decorating the entire house for the holidays, keep it to perhaps a tree or a few stockings. Your children need your attention and affection more than any other elaborate gesture, so be sure not to overexert yourself with the details.
4. Take a vacation.
Taking a vacation with your children around the holidays can be a way to reinvent the holidays for you and your children. Choose a simple vacation near your home to start and incorporate some of the traditions you have done in the past. For example, rent a cabin in a beautiful place for a night or two, but bring the board games you have always played. Or if you live near a shoreline, a short cruise can be a good getaway as well, and will provide all the meals and entertainment for you.