Holidays can be daunting for children in the middle of a divorce. No matter how you celebrated past holidays, you need to establish new traditions now that you are divorcing. New holiday activities will help your children forget the pain of divorce and bring them joy. If possible, plan a joint Thanksgiving or Christmas celebration with your spouse because that will help your children feel comfortable. If that’s not practical, begin new traditions with your children.
Keep the Kids Informed
Bring the children to your house and discuss the holiday season with them. Let your children know things will be different this year, but that doesn’t mean the holidays will be bad. Explain that mommy and daddy don’t live together anymore, but we both still love you. Tell the children exactly what you plan for the holidays, when they will see you and what you will be doing with them.
Stay in Touch
Even if you are not with your children on a holiday, that’s no reason you can’t be there in spirit. Call, send a small present or a card with a short message of love. Your children will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
Start New Traditions
Don’t try to recreate familiar family holidays because they will remind your children of the loss. Cook a ham, a duck or roast a rabbit for Thanksgiving in place of the traditional turkey. Or, go to a nice restaurant with your children. Perhaps you can rediscover the meaning of Christ’s birthday or research your ethnic background and do a Scottish, Irish, German or French holiday.
Make an Advent Calendar
An Advent Calendar makes counting the days until Christmas more fun for your children because it’s packed with daily prizes. Advent Calendars are easy to make or you can buy them at a local store. To make a Advent Calendar, take candy or trinket filled colored envelopes and tack them to a calendar board. You can also include candy canes, mittens, or gingerbread men in the envelopes for your children.
Visit a Tree Farm
Start the holiday season right by visiting a tree farm to select and cut your very own Christmas tree. Let your children find the perfect tree by themselves. They will remember it forever. Tree farms also have sleigh rides, hay rides, train rides and other family friendly activities. When you get the tree home, let the children string the lights and decorate it.
See the Christmas Lights
Many neighborhoods, businesses and Universities decorate with Christmas lights during the holiday season. In the middle of December, take the children around your city looking at the different decorations. Take pictures and let each child choose their favorite.
Read a Christmas Story
Bring out your favorite Christmas story and begin an annual tradition by reading it on Christmas Eve before bedtime. Designate one family member as the reader or take turns passing around the book so everyone can take part in the fun. If you won’t be with your children on Christmas Eve, record a story and send it to them so they can hear your voice reading to them on that special evening.
Cook Christmas Breakfast
Start a Holiday tradition by picking a favorite treat the children love for Christmas breakfast. If they like traditional food, make scrambled eggs, bacon and pancakes or waffles. You can top the pancakes or waffles with syrup, little candies, fruit, yogurt or whipped cream. If your children are adventurous, you can make kitsch or corned beef hash for breakfast. It doesn’t matter what you cook, the important thing is to choose a favorite dish for your children and cook it every year for Christmas breakfast.
Hunt for Presents
Take the presents from under the tree and hide them around the house instead. Assemble envelopes from Santa with instructions telling the children where he hid the presents. You can give each child an envelope and let them take out slips of paper one at a time and hunt for that present. When they find the present, they can bring it into the living room to open with everyone present.
Bake Cookies with The Kiddies
Stir up some holiday cheer by mixing and baking a batch of fresh cookies with the children. Assign little ones an easy task, such as adding pre-measured ingredients to the bowl. Let them roll out the dough and cut or shape it into their favorite cookies. When the cookies are cooked and cool, give each child their own batch of cookies to decorate. Lay out different colored frostings and small candies for them to use.
Create a Digital Holiday Scrapbook
Want to collect memories of your new holiday traditions? Take pictures and organize them into a digital scrapbook. You can enhance the pictures by adding music or a narrative. Upload the set and send it to your family and friends. Save a copy so you can relive past holiday fun with your children. The important point is to do different things this holiday season. Get your children involved; they will appreciate the love and attention.