Well, we’ve made it to December in one of, if not the longest feeling years of our lives! 2020 brings unique challenges that can add extra stress and tension on top of normal holiday shopping and family stress. This added tension can quickly lead to escalating disagreements that impact both you as well as your children, who may be traveling between two homes during the Holiday season.
Fear not! Hope is not lost, and this is a navigable time. We have teamed up with the one and only Elisabeth Stitt, founder of Joyful Parenting Coaching, to provide you with some tools, tips, and things to think about during the holidays and COVID.
1. Remember that your children are your priority: the change in family dynamics can be traumatic for a child. The loss of traditions and of a single stable home can be emotionally and mentally taxing on them. Children will often exhibit a range of emotions, from sadness to anger and disappointment. While you are also going through the stress of divorce, remember the purpose of these holidays is about joy, and laughter, and family. Take all steps necessary to avoid exposing them to arguments and tension caused by the divorce.
2. Plan ahead: hopefully, you created your holiday schedule well in advance of the holidays. It is important to work out all logistical issues well before they are needed. Having a clear schedule and boundaries to ensure everyone knows where the children will be and how they will get there is critical to success. It is helpful to write down all plans in case any confusion arises later. Having plans in writing also allows both parents to have a copy for easy reference. Inform your children of all plans so that they can anticipate where they will be, for how long, and how they will be getting there. Show little kids the calendar and go over the plan with them multiple times. Print out the plan for your middle- and high school kids and give it to them
3. Do not compete with your ex: often recently separated parents can find themselves in a competition for their children’s affection through a gift competition. These holidays are not about being better or buying more for your child than the other parent. You cannot buy your child’s love. Minimizing your child’s stress as much as possible is key. Using your children as a pawn to hurt your ex will hurt your children more. If possible, speak to each other about what your gift-giving plans are.
4. Create new traditions: It is ok to create new traditions that reflect the change in your family. You can include your children in deciding what you would like to create as your new holiday traditions. This will give them a sense of comfort and something to look forward to in the coming years.
5. Be easy on yourself: you are experiencing a loss as well. Your children are adapting to a new family structure, you are as well. Take advantage of any free time you have, and use it to do something nice for yourself. If you can alleviate your own stress, you will give yourself the ability to be at your best for your children during the holidays.
If any of the above ideas resonate with you, we encourage you to visit Elisabeth’s website https://www.elisabethstitt.com/ and her Instagram @Joyfulparentingcoaching.
When you want to raise happy, healthy and productive kids that are prepared for whatever life throws at them at today, Elisabeth Stitt is your “go to” parenting coach and expert. Kids don’t come with an Operating Manual—so if you think you’re supposed to know how to parent or that it’s built into your DNA—that’s just not true. With over 50,000 hours of working with kids and parents to support her in her work, Elisabeth can guide parents through any situation. Parenting is tough enough in normal circumstances, and it’s a skill: It can be taught, learned and practiced. Author of Parenting as a Second Language and a long-time teacher with the Redwood City School District, Elisabeth Stitt brings 25+ years of working with kids of all ages to her work with parents. Through her talks, workshops and webinars, Elisabeth brings her warmth and wisdom to parents all over the world.