7 Fun Post-Divorce Traditions to Begin with Your Kids This Year
Navigating the holiday season post-divorce can hit you squarely between the eyes. The first holiday after your divorce will bring up all sorts of emotions.
How can you create new traditions with your kids that retain some of the happiness and warmth you love about the holidays while also personalizing them for your new situation?
How do you start a new family tradition after divorce?
Any change is hard, but the changes after a divorce are the hardest of all – especially if they affect or stand in contrast to happy memories and time-honored family traditions.
If you’re co-parenting, spending certain holidays with your kids may not be possible. And while the first year of not having them can feel emotional, you can still make all the other moments you have with them count.
Take a deep breath, and remember that the love and connection you share with your kids, friends, and family members are the real magic of the holidays – not the date itself.
Make your time together special
Starting new post-divorce traditions will no doubt lack the warm fuzzies of the past at first. But once established, they can offer new fun and meaning of their own. Remember, it’s quality over quantity.
Don’t have the kids for the holiday? Invite the family over for an after-Black Friday shopping dinner or a casual Thanksgiving pajama party with yummy leftovers instead. Relight your week-after-Hanukkah candles. Make Boxing Day a new family tradition. The point is to spend special time with loved ones in whatever time and context your schedule allows.
These ideas have worked for others
You don’t have to recreate the wheel. Divorced parents over the decades have had to get creative when developing new survival strategies around holidays after divorce. Take advantage of ideas that others have created, or put your own personal spin on them.
1. Focus on others who have less
Are you sick of the over-the-top consumerism of the holidays? This is a great time to model caring for others who are less fortunate.
Whether you and your kids shop for a child you choose off the local giving tree or volunteer to serve a meal at a homeless shelter, your kids will get a first-hand lesson about sharing with those who have less than they do. You may even find they pass on this tradition to their own kids later in life.
2. Host an adult and kid Friendsgiving
Many adults have found solace in Friendsgiving celebrations – time spent celebrating a holiday with friends when they can’t be with loved ones. How about hosting a pre- or post-Friendsgiving (of sorts) that the kids can invite friends to as well?
Ask everyone to bring a potluck dish – maybe one they particularly like from their own family’s celebration. Although you can decide to offer the traditional turkey, everybody may be turkeyed out. How about a Friendsgiving taco bar instead?
3. Introduce them to live performances
Around the holidays, there’s no shortage of special concerts and performances.
Whether it’s a choral singalong at the local high school auditorium or a ballet performance of the Nutcracker Suite at the cultural center downtown, make it an “event” by dressing up and going out to dinner first. This may just become an annual highlight of your holidays.
4. Celebrate half birthdays and un-holidays
Why limit holidays and special occasions to once a year? If your parenting plan causes you to miss an actual date, create an “un” or “half” version to celebrate.
For example, if you can’t physically spend your child’s birthday with them, celebrate their half-birthday six months later instead. If you missed Easter, who says that an un-Easter egg hunt is any less fun? Put whatever twist you want on the celebration to make it more fun and meaningful.
5. Maintain weekly or monthly activities
Instead of focusing on a holiday, what about any old day of the week or month to celebrate?
Holidays are great, but what about Tuesdays? After all, Tuesdays come around every week, and who said Tuesday isn’t the perfect night for family talent show night? That expanse between New Year and Valentine's Day? How about “dinner around the world” month where you dedicate one night a week to takeout from a different country's cuisine?
Making regular days special can help you survive the emotions of not spending official holidays or birthdays with your kids. And, it can make the time between holidays much more fun.
6. Collect annual interviews
Every year, at the beginning of the year, a specific holiday, or their birthday, ask your kids a series of questions in an interview format that you can collect over time.
Ask the same questions each year. Keep these interviews and accompanying photos or drawings in a scrapbook that you can bring out over time. You and the kids will have fun seeing how their likes, dislikes, goals, and priorities have changed over time.
Christmas, Hanukkah, and more: Check out Hello Divorce’s Happier (Holi)days Are Coming Spotify playlist.
7. Spend time with your village
Remember, you’re not the only divorced parent out there. If you have divorced friends who are also struggling during the holidays, reach out and support each other. Get together when you do or don’t have the kids so you can give and get support, swap stories, and vent about challenges. There’s no reason to do this by yourself.
After divorce, there are no set rules when it comes to creating new traditions to enjoy with your kids. Get creative. Enjoy whatever reimagining of holidays you decide to celebrate. Your new traditions can become just as important – maybe even more important – than the well-worn ones. After all, it’s not about the date; it’s the shared memories you create that matter.
If you need more ideas on navigating post-divorce life, we’re here to help. At Hello Divorce, we offer everything from online divorce plans and flat-rate professional services to helpful articles and resources about making the best possible future for yourself and your kids after your divorce.
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