12 Tips for making the most of your single parent holiday season

Here are some great tips from Pamela Wynn at DIY Divorce...I'm a little late to prep for Christmas, but definitely worth the read... and check out her website for more valuable info!

Thanks Pam!

1. Don't Make Your Kids Choose.

This one is absolutely essential. It can be tempting to ask the kids where they want to be, but resist at all costs. It’s been well documented you should not bad mouth the other parent, but it might be less obvious that you should never make your kids decide who they want to be with for the holiday. It is the same as asking them which family they like the best. That's one of the reasons for having a parenting schedule - everyone knows who is where when.

2. It's Tempting, But Never Split the Holiday.

You’ll be tempted to “split the holiday” if you live close by each other. Maybe Christmas Eve with Mom until after Christmas breakfast and then over to Dad’s house for the rest of the day. Seems like everyone benefits, right? Wrong. You kids will be taken away from their new toys and everyone will spend time getting to places. Make it easier on your kids and accept that you won’t see them every year.

3. Skip the Relative Visit Loop.

While it's important for your kids to stay connected to extended family, if you only have a few days with them, it is no fun to always be driving somewhere else. Same principle as number 2 - a good intention that leads to a frustrating holiday. You’re together with your children. Go where you want to be, settle in and stay there. Let the relatives come to your house.

5. Coordinate Gifts.

Make sure and coordinate gift giving with your ex. Your kids will ask for the same stuff from both of you, and if you don’t want them to get two Elmo Lives and no WALL-E Robot. This one is easy to do by email. Along the same line, don't try to compete by giving expensive gifts - it will backfire a million times.

6. Skip the Guilt.

This one can be related to 5. Don’t take away from your time together by feeling guilty that you’ve “brought this on” your kids. If you make your time together special, they won’t notice, and you shouldn’t either. Also, don’t make your kids feel guilty for having fun at their “other Christmas.” A pressure-free, guilt-free holiday is the best Christmas gift to give your kids.

7. Take Pictures!

They’ll remember what’s in the pictures. This might sound trivial, but take alot of pictures when you are with your kids. You could even make them an album of the holiday. You’ll never be sure if it’s for them or you, but do it anyway.

8. Build a Seasonal Tradition.

Remember that Christmas is a season, not just a day. The more pressure you put on celebrating on an actual day, the more likely you are to be stressed out. Pick something special for the weekends you have them in December, and do it every year so that it becomes "your" holiday tradition to share with the kids. It could be anything from decorating the tree, caroling, making empanadas, putting up lights to watching Rudolph. This lets you focus on a season of family and fun.

9. One-on-one time.

If you have more than one child, try to make time for each one of them individually at the holidays. Watch a special movie together with one, take a walk with the other, run to the store to get egg nog with the third. They’ll appreciate their special alone time and so will you.

10. Have fun yourself.

Do what you need to and have some fun yourself. This can be a difficult one too. If you have the kids, stop trying to make everything perfect and kick back and enjoy. If this is not your year to see them, make some alternate plans and go enjoy yourself.

11. Play Santa

Make sure that your children have a card and a gift for the other parent. Even if the other parent has never taken the kids to get you a gift, be the bigger person. Go to the dollar store, get on the computer and design a card together. Just do it.

12. Get into the spirit of the season.

This is a time for giving, forgiving and new starts. Turn Scrooge's emotional lessons about holidays past, present and future into New Year's resolutions about letting go of anger and treasuring all you have—despite all you have lost.

Happy Parenting!

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