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How to Make the Holidays Fun for Kids as a Newly Single Parent

Holiday scene with child

The holidays are a time for having fun as a family, but what if your family looks different this year? If you’ve recently gone through a divorce, navigating your first holiday season as a newly single parent can feel overwhelming. Learn how you can make the holidays fun for your kids this year, even with a new family dynamic.

Put Away Perfectionism

As they say, don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Here’s the deal – no one lives in a Hallmark movie, divorced or not. It probably won’t start snowing at the stroke of midnight on Christmas day. It’s unlikely that your rude relative will suddenly become a beacon of yuletide cheer. You can’t even guarantee your kid won’t throw an unexpected tantrum. In everyday life, things are messy, and this time of year is no exception. But messy can still be wonderful! Drop the idea of the “perfect” Christmas now, and just focus on having fun. Your kids will have a much better time if you approach the holidays with an attitude that’s relaxed and ready for a good time – even if there are some bumps along the way.

Rethink past Traditions

There’s no denying that things have changed, so don’t bother trying to recreate the past. Consider each of your old traditions and ask yourself, “Does this really bring us joy, or is it just what we’ve always done?” Keep doing the things you really love, and skip the rest. There’s no need to force yourself to do something out of habit or an unwarranted sense of obligation. Think of this as an opportunity to reevaluate the ways you celebrate and make the holidays more suitable and fun for your family.

Create New Memories

It can be difficult for children to take part in past family traditions with one parent missing. Establish a tradition or two that’s just for you and your kids – something totally new. Not only will it be a great bonding experience, but participating in a completely new tradition can help the absence of the other parent feel less prominent. Maybe play Christmas music and have a game night, build and decorate gingerbread houses, or go pick out a new ornament together. No matter what you do, just focus on having fun – and don’t begrudge your former spouse if they create new traditions, too.

Do Something as a Family – Including Your Ex

If you and your ex-spouse can’t be in the same room without fighting, then it’s probably not a great idea to spend time together this holiday season. But if you can manage to be civil, consider doing something together with your children. Your kids will love getting to spend time with both of you, and doing one thing with everyone can help soften the blow of celebrating most of the holidays with each parent separately. Pick out a structured activity that isn’t too long or doesn’t require lengthy conversation. For example, go to a holiday show or movie as a family, or have both parents present when the kids take photos with Santa. Just a little time can make a huge difference for your children – and it can go a long way towards easing tension with your co-parent, too.

Remember Your “Why”

Why do you celebrate the holidays? What’s the point in buying presents or putting up a tree? No one is forcing you to participate in the holiday season. So why take part at all? Chances are, your reason for celebrating is your family – to bring them joy, spend time together, and experience the love that the holidays bring out in all of us. Don’t focus on what’s different this year or what you may have lost. Focus on what you have. And if things don’t go according to plan, don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re learning how to navigate your new life, and that takes time. Just try to remember what it’s all for, and making the holidays joyful for your children won’t be a challenge.