The holidays are approaching, and as we all know, the holidays can bring up challenges even in the best of times – add COVID-19 restrictions into the mix and it can become quite hectic. Celebrating the holidays during COVID-19 won’t exactly be easy due to these restrictions. Some people comply with government mandates to wear masks and so forth, yet others feel it is a personal choice. Family members from afar who are visiting over the holidays may feel exempt from COVID precautions.
Your children come first. If you are uncomfortable having the youngsters attend large family events, speak up. The news periodically reports individuals catching COVID-19 from relatives at family gatherings, such as funerals. It puts children in an awkward spot when their great-aunt zooms in for a bear hug or kiss. Your offspring are not miniature police officers who say “stop, where is your mask?” or “keep your distance.”
Set up rules now – before getting caught up in tricky situations, especially when alcohol is flowing. Kids do not want to hurt relatives’ feelings. Just as they are not to be caught in the middle during divorce, do not let this happen with COVID. Have a dialogue with the other parent way before the holiday season. Discover common ground and build upon it.
Tips on Getting Through the Holidays During COVID-19
Territory to Cover
Do you want the kids to celebrate with others or just immediate family? What about with grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles? Some families are small and others quite large.
What is the number you are comfortable with in a gathering? 4? 6? 10? What about wearing masks? That is improbable around a dinner table, but what about otherwise?
In what type of space will the holiday be celebrated? A tiny apartment where people are squeezed together? Or will spacing be possible?
What amount of physical contact is okay? None? The elbow bump? Be specific if kisses and hugs are a no-go for your kids, then let it be known. Our priest recommends the wai, which is particularly practiced in Asia. The hands are close to the chest with the palms pressing together like in prayer. The head bows in this respectful way to greet each other.
This is only one holiday season out of possibly eighty-four in a lifetime. Some parents are just staying home with the kids. If on friendly terms with the other parent, consider celebrating it together with the youngsters. Watch holiday classics films and fun ones like Elf.
Tweaking Holiday Traditions
There are also ways to tweak holiday traditions and be with others while still being safe. Decorate trees outside for the birds and animals. Take pine cones and coat them with peanut butter, then roll them in birdseed. Make a hole near the top and slide a ribbon through it, and then hang it on a pine tree. Deer enjoy apples. Have the kids find other treats that the wildlife will enjoy.
Take hikes and do other outdoor activities. Cross country skiing and sledding are fun. Go ice skating on a frozen pond and bring along hot cider or chocolate. Holiday goodies will add to the festive spirit.
Walk around the neighborhood admiring the colorful lights. Drive through the city to see the holiday displays. Bake holiday cookies from another country with the children. It is fun to try different recipes, and these would also make nice presents.
If you are having difficulty negotiating with the co-parent on how to keep the children safe over the holidays, consider having the pediatrician or nurse have a word with the other parent. A neutral third party, who only has the kids’ well-being at heart, can set up guidelines. This avoids the feeling that you are blocking them from celebrating with their extended family. If your children are seeing a therapist throughout the divorce, it would be ideal to work out a plan for the parents regarding COVID.
Dealing with an impasse
COVID-19 safety is a parenting issue. How do you handle other issues? Mediation is another avenue parents can pursue. Mediation deals with one issue and can be done quickly. Both parents agree that the mediator’s decision is binding. The mediator is sometimes a lawyer who is specially trained and certified.
Keep Children Healthy
Do your part to help kids stay healthy. Some obvious things include good nutrition, plenty of sleep, and decreasing their stress levels. As a nurse, I have my sons take Manuka Honey, which is an antiviral. The bees make honey from the manuka flowers in New Zealand. I took it the years I was a school nurse and was never ill. I also periodically take a homeopathic immune booster. If someone seems sick, get your kids away immediately, even if it is a close relative.
Remember: the holidays during COVID-19 don’t have to be difficult if you don’t make them difficult. It is possible to have holiday fun and be safe.