The holiday season can be a challenging time for people who are lonely or alone, but it can also be extremely difficult for children whose parents are divorced.

Mental health experts say the holidays have an extreme effect on families and individuals because expectations are high, and many people have always used them as a barometer to measure their happiness.

Five tips for families of divorce to enjoy the holidays

Children are most affected when disruptions occur to family rituals during the holidays, and it’s even more difficult for those with psychiatric or learning disorders. Here are several tips to help minimize stress:

  • Accept change: Talk to your kids about the new realities of your family dynamic and discuss ways to develop new traditions to make your time fun and memorable.
  • Be realistic: Always consider your child’s patience and ability to focus as well as any anxiety they may have when meeting new people, including extended family members.
  • Prepare kids for changes to their routine: Holidays are always a disruptive time for a family’s regular schedule. Prepare your kids by telling them what is going to happen and what you expect from them.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself: Divorced parents often try to create the “perfect” holiday season for their kids. Focus on your priorities and let go of the things you don’t have the time or energy to accomplish.
  • Have fun: Children sense if their parents are stressed out and are likely to be just as irritable as you. Keep a good sense of humor throughout, enjoy the time with your kids and don’t worry so much about choreographed events or outings.

Make the most of your holiday season

Holidays are a magical time of heightened expectations for children, with gifts, time away from school and being reunited with beloved family members. Helping them adjust to the new realities after a divorce can keep the holiday season a memorable and joyous occasion.