Shared custody and, around this time of year,
shared holidays can be tough, but it's a fact of life for a large
number of parents and children.
It's certainly no one's ideal scenario. I've heard
legend of families where parents gather together for celebratory
dinners and exes are like part of the extended, big, happy family.
I personally don't know anyone fortunate enough to have such a set
I do, however, know a lot of parents who are not
looking forward to celebrating without their child(ren). In my
family, we are celebrating Turkey Day this weekend because my
daughter will be with her father on the actual day.
If you find yourself childless on major holidays,
there are ways to cope. These ideas have worked for me and my
friends in similar situations:
It's a great way to keep the day in perspective and
giving back feels good. Side note: make sure you're volunteering
somewhere that really does plan to put you to work. One year, the
place I volunteered at was seriously overstaffed. Standing around
with nothing to do while watching other families was not quite what
I had been looking for that year. Find a place that can really use
your time and talents.
Sometimes airfare is cheaper on the day of the
holiday. Take advantage! Getting away may be just what you need. I
have a single mom friend whose kiddos are with their dad this year,
so she's heading west to do some skiing over Thanksgiving. It
sounds fabulous. I'm not saying that not having your kids is a
vacation. In fact, it's quite the opposite. I know she'll be sad,
but doing something she enjoys is preferable choice to the
alternative of being sad and lonely in an empty house.
If traveling isn't in the budget, fill up that
empty house or find a full house to join. When I was flying solo on
a holiday without my girl, friends kindly invited me to
celebrations and I'd have friends over to my house. It's ok to be
the one doing the inviting. You don't know who else is without
their near and dear ones unless you ask. Try it, you may gather
together a fun assortment of good people for holiday
Embrace grown-up fun
Enjoy drinks and food you wouldn't serve when the
kids are around. Relish cutting only your own turkey and not anyone
else's (hopefully your great uncle can handle his own this year).
If you're with relatives, enjoy some adult conversation. Go to a
movie that YOU want to see. Maybe even one that's rated R. Without
having to pay a sitter! Score! You'd never hit the Black Friday
sales with the children in tow, but if you go solo, you may just be
able to take advantage of some great deals.
Focus on the next
Goodness knows there are always holiday
preparations to be made, be it for Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year's
or beyond. Figure out the next holiday you'll have your children
with you and make plans for how that will be a special day of
making memories. Those will sustain you during those holidays you
are not together. Do some decorating, make some food in advance and
focus on the fabulous family times ahead.
Whether you are celebrating the official holiday
together or apart, finding time to express your love and gratitude
for your child(ren) and talking together about what you are
thankful for can make any day Thanksgiving.
Although she’d like to be taller and have more time to dive into good books, Shannan is awfully happy with her life in the western suburbs, where she moved after a decade of living on the north side of the city. She blogs about parenting a tween at Tween Us on ChicagoNow and at Families in the Loop.
See more of Shannan 's stories here.
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