With the holidays upon us, a lot of the traditions we once looked forward to now carry a different weight. We’re traveling less, going out infrequently, and most events and parties have been canceled or seriously altered.
Right now, more than ever, the holidays need to be about family. For most of us, the safety of our families means only spending time with those in our immediate vicinity, and that goes double for parents of small kids.
Holiday Visitation During a Pandemic
Co-parenting has always made the holidays a little more stressful, especially when it comes to visitations and your custody agreements. Organizing who goes where, haggling over Thanksgiving and Christmas meals and mornings, and making sure that no matter what happens the kids are having a happy and healthy holiday weigh on the minds of every good parent. Still, that means that after the haggling over the weekends and holidays you may end up alone and missing the kids more than ever.
When the kids are off on structured holiday time with the other parent, we look for distractions. Have a friend over, go to the movies, or go on a date. These days, many of these options are not available to us. For once, something other than divorce has made the holidays more difficult. Dinners will have to be modified. Events will be changed or canceled entirely. The kids may not understand, and this will put more pressure on the parents, and exacerbate the stresses of co-parenting. It’s tough considering that the holidays might not be what we want them to be, but that doesn’t mean we should give up on making sure that it continues to be the most wonderful time of the year for our deserving children.
For those of us who won’t have the kids this year, or have to drastically change plans, there are a few ways to make the holidays easier and to make sure that every hand-off and scheduled holiday goes off without a hitch during the pandemic.
First and foremost, it’s important to make sure you and your co-parent are on the same page in terms of the Coronavirus, risk levels, and what you do during the holidays. If possible, talk to your co-parent and reach an understanding about who will be where, how minimum contact will be with people, and how safe everyone will stay overall.
Ways To Handle The Holidays:
Travel can be difficult and risky, and making your plans concise (down to the date, when possible) will make the holiday visitations easier on both parents and kids.
Making it clear to your kids (especially the younger ones) that the holidays aren’t canceled in any form, they’re just going to look a little different this year.
Be the Adult:
Acknowledge any sadness, depression, anger, or apprehension as soon as possible, and if you notice any particular feelings or behavioral changes in your children, discuss it with them and your co-parent.
Setup for Success:
Clearly state that the holidays are going to be fun and that you and your co-parent are going to do the best you can to make sure everyone enjoys where they spend their time this holiday.
Be Patient and Flexible:
The holidays are often overwhelming, and things go wrong. Right now, stresses and moods are heightened and more fragile. Attempt to work with your co-parent instead of looking for a fight or argument. Understand that with more flexibility, the kids will have a better holiday.
Do Fun Stuff:
Visiting pumpkin patches, corn mazes, and tree farms is still possible when you follow Covid safety guidelines.
Keep It Small:
When it comes to your family dinners, especially Christmas and Thanksgiving, make sure that you’re keeping the meals small and including only your immediate family and close relatives. If your children have any apprehension about certain people at the table, consider the need to include them.
With proper planning, clear instruction, and communication your family will have a delightful holiday, even if the festivities do look a little different than they normally do. Most importantly, remember that as the parent it is up to you to set the mood of the holiday and hold your head high. If you need any additional help when you’ve exhausted your options, your family attorney has your back.
Holidays are difficult for you during divorce, and the current state of things doesn’t make it easier for anyone, but the joy you bring to the holidays will be reflected in your children, no matter where they are.