Over the coming weeks, DadsDivorce will be sharing a lot of articles and resources to help divorced fathers make it through the holiday season.
There are many issues for divorced parents to consider as the holidays approach. Of course, your top priority should be helping your kids through this typically joyous time of year, but you might also personally be struggling with your emotions and feelings of loneliness during this time of year. Additionally, it is also crucial for you and your ex-spouse to sort out holiday parenting time well in advance to ensure you avoid any scheduling conflicts.
If this is your first holiday season after divorce, it is important to keep in mind that even if things go well, things are just going to be different. You’re probably used to gathering around the tree with your wife and kids on Christmas morning to open presents then heading to your in-laws for a big turkey dinner.
Now, your kids are likely going to be shuffling back and forth between parents, or they’ll be spending the holidays away from one parent, and you’ll have to come up with your own plans.
But you shouldn’t assume that different is going to be worse. In fact, there are plenty of fun ways to establish new holiday traditions with your kids that will create lasting memories for the entire family.
Here are just a few ideas of traditions you can start with your kids to help make the season fun.
Countdown to Christmas
Countdown the days to Christmas with a 25-day advent calendar.
You can fill each day of the calendar with small gifts or candy that you give to your child each day leading up to Christmas. If you really want to get creative, you and your kids could design your own calendar using a cork board or memo board and decorate with ribbons and bows.
Visit a tree farm
Maybe you’ve traditionally decorated the house with an artificial tree, but why not switch it up this year by going for the real deal.
Kick-off the Christmas season by loading up in the car with hot chocolate and apple cider and heading to a local Christmas tree farm to find the perfect tree.
Many tree farms also offer other fun family-friendly activities like hayrides and sleigh rides so you can make a whole day of it.
Check out holiday lights displays
Another fun idea is to take an evening and drive through your neighborhood to check out the best holiday lights displays.
There might be some parks or churches that put on their own displays and some communities even provide maps of the most elaborate houses.
At the end of the night you can grab a bite to eat at your kids’ favorite restaurant and you can vote on your favorite display.
Holiday movie marathon
Who doesn’t love a good holiday flick? Maybe your partial to the hilarious comedy of Chevy Chase in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” or prefer James Stewart’s sentimentality in “It’s A Wonderful Life,” there are plenty of classics to choose from.
Stop by Best Buy and grab a few of your favorites on DVD then order some pizza and make an evening of it.
While it is always fun to shower your kids with gifts during the holidays, it is even more rewarding to teach them the value of giving back during the holiday season.
Gather your kids together and brainstorm a cause you all care about and contact a local organization to find out how you can get involved. Websites like VolunteerMatch can help you come up with ideas.
Not only will you build memories with your children and teach them the value of caring, but you’ll also be doing real good in your local community.
Whatever new traditions you begin, it is so important to keep the proper perspective during this time of year. It might not be easy, and you’re likely going to have to confront some difficult emotions, but it is possible to make the holidays enjoyable even after divorce.
“You must ensure your children have the opportunity to spend time with family on both sides, keeping your kids out of any parenting-time disputes, avoid saying anything negative about your ex and above all else, enjoy the time you get to spend with your children,” said Cordell & Cordell Co-Founder Joe Cordell. “It may not be as much as you wish, but you can still make the most of it.”