Tips for smoother holiday sailing for single parents

If the thought of facing the holidays for the first time as a single parent has you ready to curl into a ball to hibernate until the festivities are all over, you're in good company.

But parents don't have the luxury of time-outs from stressful events, so read on to learn some coping strategies to beat back the holiday blues.

Creating new traditions can be healthy for all

You don't have to deep-six Santa's milk and cookies or the cherished reading of A Visit From St. Nicholas around the decorated tree, but focus on some new traditions to share with your kids.

If you are at a loss for what to do this holiday, consider taking your older children to volunteer at a homeless shelter. If the kids are still young, they may enjoy visiting some elderly nursing home residents who have no family to share the holidays with them.

Don't attempt to expiate parental guilt by spending excessively

It can be tempting to try to outdo the other parent during the holidays or replace the loss of an intact family with expensive gifts. But doing so will only stress you further when those bills come due. Remember that the most precious gifts you can give to your kids cost nothing — your love, attention and time.

Teach your children valuable holiday lessons

Regardless of your spiritual persuasion (or lack thereof), holidays can be a time for sharing resources with others. Invite a lonely coworker or neighbor to share your holiday meal, offer a shut-in a ride to holiday services or simply discuss the meaning the holidays have for you and your family.

Don't allow visitation debacles to ruin the holidays

Sometimes parents have to compromise in order to accommodate the other parent's schedule during holiday visitation and custody exchanges. Yes, it can be aggravating when your plans are disrupted, but remember that the next time it could be you seeking a change in the arrangements.

Whatever the case, it is imperative that the situation with the other parent doesn't devolve into a tirade that is certain to cast a pall over the holiday celebration.

Does your visitation schedule need tweaking?

Even though everybody gave it their best effort, sometimes the family just outgrows the previous arrangements. You can revisit your custody or visitation schedule by filing a post-divorce custody modification with the Orange County courts.

Source: Single Parent Advocate, "Positive Perspectives for Single Parents and their Families," accessed Nov. 03, 2017

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