Creating New Holiday Traditions for the Single Parent Family

Christmas holiday is a time for family, fun and festivities. It’s a special time that delivers an air of excitement for both adults and kids alike. For most, it is the happiest time of the year, for others, it’s a stressful and lonely time. The holidays can be a real challenge for some families, like single parent families, who face the reality of a split visitation arrangement with their kids and a tighter gift giving budget.

Though Christmas may never be the same after a change in family structure, Christmas doesn’t have to be a sad reminder of that fact. Creating new family traditions or at least encouraging family participation in existing ones, will keep the Christmas spirit alive and reduce the tendency to reminisce about the “old days”.

Here are some new ways to engage your family in Christmas tradition like never before:

  • Enjoy the Christmas festivities around town. Though some events don’t come cheap there are plenty of activities to do that have minimal cost like taking a train ride through Stanley Park, sledding down Grouse Mountain, enjoying the Christmas trees décor around town, visiting the Van Dusen garden. If you have a bit of money, I would recommend taking a cruise on the carol ships, watching the Nutcracker, watch the Imax Christmas special or watching a Vancouver Symphony special.
  • Create arts and crafts with the kids. Being artistic can be a bonding experience between you and the kids. It can be a soothing and carefree activity that will take your mind off the stress of the Holidays. You can create generic gingerbread cookies and have, on hand, icing of various colors and sprinkles for the kids to use to design their own. If you’re ambitious, you can build a gingerbread house and by a variety of candies for the house.
  • Play secret Santa. Give the children an allowance and go shopping together. If they are old enough, they can probably be left to shop in the mall on their own and you can arrange to meet back at a specific location. If they require adult help, inviting one of your closest friends or family members to help them shop will enhance this shopping experience. You can get some great little gifts under $10 each. Wrap all the gifts in different wrappers and number each gift. Each person will choose a number from a hat and take the number that corresponds to the gift. You can play this exciting secret Santa game on a separate day from your usual gift opening day.
  • Make cooking a family festivity. Instead of mom or dad having to slave away in the kitchen all day by himself or herself, he/she can enlist the participation of all members of the family in making Christmas dinner. If the children are old enough to cook, each child can prepare their favourite dish for Christmas. What a great way to learn how to cook!

It may take some time to find the right combination of activities to do during the holidays. But throughout the planning stages, 1) be sensitive to the other parent’s access to them and don’t overwhelm the kids with too much activity, 2) listen to what they want to do and help them to develop the idea further, 3) engage them as much as possible in their chosen activities.

Don’t expect the kids to adapt to the new traditions immediately. Give yourself and your kids some time to adjust and you will be sure to enjoy the holidays again!

About the author

Chanelle Dupre

Chanelle Dupre is a single mother of 2, an accomplished marketing executive, journalist and enterpreneur. She's written for numerous magazines and newspapers on single parenting subjects.

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