How to Create New Family Holiday Traditions After Divorce

Holiday searated parents with kids

Every year families in America spend more than $4,000 on vacations. These vacations signal a special time to kick back, relax, and share quality time with your family.

After a divorce with kids, it can feel like that dynamic changes. Most couples do not continue holidaying together after a divorce. You may also find that your traditional holiday destinations no longer have appeal.

While this change can feel a little odd, it also means that you have a great opportunity to create new holiday traditions! Embracing this change means that holidays after divorce can be just as much fun as those before it.

Struggling for ideas about how to create new holiday traditions with your family? Well, we’re happy to help! Read on to find out our top tips for making the most of family vacations after a divorce.

Acknowledge the Difference 

Holidays after divorce are always going to be different even if you’re friendly with your ex. Acknowledging this change with yourself and your kids is really important.

Remember, more than 700,000 marriages end in divorce every year. So if you’re going through it you’re not alone! In fact, loads of families navigate this transition successfully every year.

It’s a good idea to ask your kids about how they’re feeling around the holidays. Try to do this lightly – they might be feeling more okay than you are and the last thing you want is to stress them out!

One nice way to bring it up is to ask if there’s anything they like to do during the holidays. To avoid putting them in the middle of two households, present yourself and your ex as a united front. This will make your children feel much more comfortable expressing what they really want.

Include Your Kids in Holiday Planning

One of the most important things about planning holidays for divorced families is ensuring that everyone feels included. This is why it’s a great idea to include your kids in vacation planning.

This might involve asking them:

  • Where they’d like to spend the holidays
  • If there are any activities they’d particularly like to try
  • Discussing holiday destinations they’ve always wanted to visit

To keep things family orientated, you might want to suggest a trip away with their cousins or grandparents. It’s a good idea to try something a little different after a divorce. Trying to recreate an old family holiday can be emotional for everyone involved.

If you do include your kids in holiday planning, you need to be prepared for differences of opinion. For example, if your kids live with your ex and have plans with friends they may want to stay in the area over the summer. In that case, it might be worth thinking about doing a mini-break somewhere nearby.

Try not to take this personally if it does happen. Their friends are an important part of their support network. So it’s understandable that they might want to spend time with them.

Discuss Scheduling With Your Ex

As with all things co-parenting communication is absolutely vital. After divorce, parenting as a unit is the most effective way to create cohesion for everyone involved.

This avoids your children feeling like they’re being pulled in different directions. It also makes planning ahead much easier.

Having a conversation about vacation plans can be very difficult and requires sensitivity. If you need to, bringing a mediator in can really help with this. That way you can both discuss things you need with someone in the room to keep things calm.

It’s important that you do not ask your children to decide what happens during the vacations directly. This can put them on the spot in a very stressful way.

Instead, ask about things that they might like to do and make suggestions for activities. That way you’re focusing on building something nice together rather than fixating on what isn’t happening.

If you get on well with your ex then you might consider spending some of the holidays together. For example, if your children have birthdays during the holidays you might both want to spend the day with them. 

However, it’s important that you only do this if you are absolutely comfortable. Forcing yourselves to “have a nice time for the kids” on a special day could end in disaster.

While spending time apart can be difficult, it ensures that everyone has a relaxing holiday. The most important thing is to act in a way that is fair for everyone involved.

Get Out and About

Being stuck in the house for the holidays during divorce or after it can really emphasize the change. While it’s important to acknowledge and talk about this, getting out and about will do everyone good. 

Some great ideas of fun activities to do with your kids during the holidays include: 

  • Going for walks and picnics to check out local landmarks 
  • Going swimming
  • Doing some gardening (especially if you’ve moved into a new house!)
  • Going for a bike ride
  • Visiting an outdoor cinema (or creating your own in your garden)
  • Going to the beach for a day
  • Creating your own scavenger hunt
  • Holding your own sports day
  • Den-building
  • Visiting a trampoline park 
  • Baking 

All of these activities will keep your kids entertained without costing you the earth. So rather than using your holiday budget for one big activity, why not stretch it out to create a fun-filled week?

Of course, you can balance all these activities out with lots of cozy nights playing games or watching movies.

Stay in Touch During the Holidays

Unfortunately, there will be times when you aren’t with your kids during the vacations. This is one of the hardest parts of holidays during a divorce, especially for long-distance families.

It’s really important to show your kids that even if you aren’t with them you’re thinking of something. Make sure you keep in touch with them over the holidays by calling and messaging them.

If you aren’t with them for birthdays or Christmas, make sure you send any gifts and cards in plenty of time. This will ensure they have something to open and will show them you’re thinking of them.

Show Your Kids That You’ll Make Time for Them

When you can’t spend the whole vacation with your kids it’s important you make the most of the time you have with them. This shows them that you want to spend time with them.

Planning your vacation schedule in advance with your ex is incredibly important. That way everyone, including your children, will know in advance what is going to happen.

Make sure you can dedicate this time to your kids as much as possible. This means keeping your social schedule free and taking time off work if you can. That way they will feel like they are your sole focus. 

If you do have any special holiday traditions between just you and your children these don’t have to go out of the window. Holding on to find little activities that you used to do will show your kids that your love for them hasn’t changed.

Keep Busy If You’re On Your Own 

Being alone during the holidays can be a difficult time especially if you’re doing it for the first time. So it’s important that you keep yourself busy to avoid feeling too down.

This is a good time to reach out to friends and family. That way they can include you in their holiday plans if it works.

Make sure you do this in advance as a lot of people make their holiday plans early on. This will make factoring you in much easier.

If you are on your own, make sure you treat the holidays like just that. Take a break from work and make sure you’re doing something you enjoy.

If you’re looking for something worthwhile to do over the holidays why not look into volunteering? This is a great way to give something back and will leave you feeling fulfilled.

And if you aren’t seeing your kids during the holidays make sure you have something booked in with them soon. That way you will all be able to look forward to time together.

Approach Introducing Them to New People Carefully 

After a divorce with kids, you might not be thinking about moving on very much at all. However, one in five marriages in America is a remarriage. So at some point (now or in the future), you may think about introducing your kids to a new partner.

It is important to handle this sensitively and it’s a good idea to keep it away from family holidays. For example, Christmas for divorced families would be a very bad time to introduce your kids to a new partner. This is a time when you should be focusing on them.

It’s far better to introduce a new partner to them in short bursts, such as over dinner.

If you do really want your new partner to join your holiday, consider having them join you for a weekend or short stay. That way, you still have a lot of quality one-on-one time with your kids.

Over time, you can start bringing together a blended family using fun activities or mini holidays. But it’s a good idea to take this slow and not throw anyone in at the deep end!

Plan in Advance 

Planning ahead after divorce with kids makes all the difference. This means that when you do see your kids you can focus on spending quality time with them. This means organizing things such as:

  • Exactly when you will be seeing your kids (including who is doing the pickup and drop off) 
  • Scheduling around any events they already have in the diary (such as parties or sports games)
  • Getting a food shop or delivery in advance so you don’t have to waste time in the store
  • Making a list of fun or free activities to do in the area to keep them entertained
  • Booking accommodation and travel if you are going away
  • Putting in holiday requests with work well in advance to ensure you are available

Having all of this in place before your holidays begin means you’ll have more time to relax later on. This will help you to be a more present parent and will let you enjoy the holiday yourself!

Don’t Put Too Much Pressure On Yourself 

Speaking of enjoying the holiday, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to create the perfect family holiday. Americans might spend almost 200 hours every year daydreaming about holidays. But it’s important not to let fantasy overtake reality!

No family holiday is ever perfect. In fact, it’s often the unplanned moments that create the best holiday memories. So don’t worry if you’re working with a tight budget or if things change last minute. 

It’s extremely important to take care of yourself when planning a family holiday after a divorce. You will probably feel emotional about the change in your family dynamic. This is a totally normal response. 

Reaching out to friends and family For support at this time can make all the difference. That way you have someone to talk to.

And if things don’t go perfectly to plan that’s also okay! Focusing your time and attention on your kids is far more important than creating a picture-perfect vacation.

Enjoy Your Holidays After a Divorce With Kids

Whether you are planning a Christmas after divorce or a summer vacation with your kids, adjusting to this change can be difficult.

However, if you seize this opportunity to create traditions after a divorce with kids you can have more fun than ever before! In fact, it could be exactly what you all need.

For more help managing co-parenting schedules during the holidays, sign up for your free trial of the 2houses app now. It’s sure to take the pressure off.

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