In 2021, my soon to be four-year-old daughter would be spending Easter with her mother. Holidays can be stressful for us as we navigate life apart and do our best to co-parent. Undoubtedly, it can be even more stressful for our daughter as she observes our best and worst attempts to navigate. But this year, it would be different. We would find a way to create a tradition that would serve us all with warmth and welcome. And it would be delicious…
Picture some of your favorite holiday memories, from childhood and beyond. They are likely filled with joy, cheer, and…well…family! When our family fabric becomes un-woven due to divorce, separation, and parental differences, unfortunately, the holidays can go from cheerful to fearful. Custody concerns, shared kid time, and of course extra traveling can bog down the most upbeat of parents—despite whom has who or when they get those bright-eyed kiddos. I want you to entertain a creative way to make the most out of our actual holiday time as a family. Allow me to introduce…The Un-Holidays!
What is The Un-Holidays you may ask?
(It’s not UN-doing so much as RE-doing our perception of how we spend the holidays wholesomely as a family.)
Well, it’s cultivating the magic of the holidays on your terms, and on your schedule. Think of infusing the same undeniable holiday energy into an “off day.” Maybe a week before, a few days after, or doubling down for the next year. The all too nostalgic months we hope to mold for our children can be cast by our own traditions and creative concepts.
Successful co-parenting any given “should be” festive time—especially during a pandemic—can be a large feat for all households involved. If we lean into these holidays with a heart of cooperation, inventiveness, and a willingness to adapt how we define tradition, we may bring generations the same family connection that all parents and children deserve.
Here’s a few Ideas that can help get you started.
1. A disposable camera – Buy a disposable camera (Yes they still sell em’)
and let child take half of the pictures with each parent. Get doubles printed and share with each household. | Like an 80’s baby, baby
2. Matching PJ’s – Find some special matching PJ’s or even make a project of tie dying white PJ’s with your child to wear at holiday gatherings or at either home. | Think GAP commercial
3. Desserts – Make a creative and crafty homemade dessert for your child to take to the other parent’s home to share for the holiday. | The more sprinkles the better!
4. Groups – Coordinate with other single or blended families to do a multi-child event or adventure. | Think Friendsgiving for kids
5. Greeting Cards – Create holiday greeting cards with the little ones from your own silly photoshoot together! | Get that kodak smile ready
6. Plan big for next year – Plan a following year trip for the (stricter) co-parenting schedule. Especially if the custody schedule allows travel. | Consider a passport as a gift from both parents
7. Go to the Movies – Go grab a flick, play, or museum complimenting the holidays. You can even get retro and watch a classic vs. remake of a favorite movie to get into the holiday spirit. | Which Grinch movie brings the popcorn out?
8. Zoom in the Room – Set and plan a Zoom or Facetime that doesn’t impede on the other co-parent’s time yet allows a parent-child connection when it really counts in a non-invasive way. This could connect the dots across the map for co-parenting | This zoom-zoom and a boom-boom can shake the room!
For Easter 2021, my daughter and I made custom chocolates that we molded, refrigerated, and surely enjoyed a few days before the festivities. The Un-Holiday creativity came into place when we thoughtfully bagged and wrapped several tote bags for her to take and share at her mother’s house (especially with her siblings). She still asks if we can make more “choc-o-late!” emphatically. You see, we created our own Un-Holiday tradition. Here was a truly cherished memory, not to mention a very cost-efficient approach to stir up the magic of the holidays on our OWN terms.
Sometimes schedule, traveling, and pre-arranged plans simply don’t allow for interactive co-parenting through the holidays—to no parent’s dis-credit. This can leave the absent parent with an “it is what it is” mentality. The most endearing quality of the “Un-Holiday” mind set is to provide an authentic, genuine, and loving traverse over the impending festive weeks and days for our children—whether they are with us or not. If anything, shine through the holidays in your mind, body, and soul. And please believe…your kiddos will notice that energy no matter their age. It very well may be the co-parenting start to your very own Un-Holiday Tradition!
Charles A. Narcisse, Certified Divorce Coach®, CDC Certified Divorce Transition and Recovery Coach ®
Charles is a CDC graduate, coach, and motivator. He is a single Father with an amazingly loved young daughter. He is able to testify that true co-parenting is possible and alive! He is also part of a blended family and has come into a Stepfather role that he loves. Charles is passionate about active, cooperative, and adaptable parenting and always willing to encourage the same.
CDC Certified Divorce Coach ® Directory Listing – https://divorcesupporthelp.com/find-a-divorce-coach/listing/charles-narcisse/