2020 Holiday Tips for Divorced Parents

Obviously, 2020 is a year with many changes, and the holidays are going to be affected in ways we never predicted. Divorced parents have offered a few tips that have helped them navigate the holidays and I’ve also been meeting with couples to address novel issues raised by our Covid-19 new world.

Socially Distanced Celebrations

Holiday gatherings will look different this year.  They may be all virtual on Zoom or Google Meet or other video platform, with kids missing extended family and friends who they normally see at the holidays.  Or they may still be in-person, but smaller or with everyone wearing masks, refraining from hugging and kissing or staying a good distance away.  Trying to respect each other’s concerns and safety fears can go a long way towards a peaceful holiday experience.  I met with one couple where one wanted to keep the holidays to just the members of each household per CDC recommendations and the other wanted extended friends and family.  They compromised on smaller get togethers, requesting masks and distancing when the kids were present and communicating their expectations to friends and relatives in advance.

More Time Dedicated to Your Kids this Year

The first major holiday after divorce will be different.  Different can be a positive thing.  Focusing on your kids will increase your enjoyment of the season.  Since we won’t have the usual holiday appearances, gatherings and crazed event schedules, it’s a chance to take advantage of 2020 and use the time to have a little fun! Past winters, we usually took a night or two to drive around in the evenings and look at Holiday lights together, but this year, it’s taken on even new delight as it’s a chance to get out of the house and giggle and “oooh and ahhh” after so much time stuck indoors.  It’s like how a trip to Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts brings so much joy now – these car outings have really made time with the kids extra special …. and there’s no wi-fi in our car!

Give Joint Gifts to the Kids

I hadn’t realized how much this could mean to kids, but having their parents buy them a consolidated special gift from both mom and dad, means something extra special.  Also, if finances are tight, it helps ease the burden on each parent as they can split the expense.  One dad told me he couldn’t really afford to buy his son that Nintendo Switch this year for Hanukkah, but mom ended up agreeing to go in on it together.  The excitement of not only getting his coveted video game console, but that it was a joint gift from his divorced parents made it 1000 times more special.  On the flip side, helping your kids pick out presents for their other parent also provides some support and excitement for them and they may feel less divided about spending the holidays separately.

Plan Special New Activities

Many parents have told me that one of the most difficult things about being divorced is not spending the exact holiday with their kids.  However, I’ve also heard great stories about how they planned such fun and exciting activities, that they realized the kids didn’t care if it was actually on Christmas Day or a day before or after.  It was the time together and the engaging celebrations that made the memories. Who remembers if it was on a Tuesday or a Friday in the scheme of things?

Holidays can be crazy, stressful, wonderful, and challenging in a non-COVID year, but with the added challenges of 2020, all we can do is our best to focus on our families, our health, kindness to others and on the things we can control.  Happy Holidays!