As the pandemic has progressed and for many has been either a process of very gradual expanding of our social networks and for others, a process of opening our lives back up and then reducing again, it has been really tough to know what to expect of events anymore. Particularly events like the holidays feel different right now.
While I am not personally even the biggest Halloween fan, I found myself feeling a bit sad about Halloween and not being able to take our toddler trick or treating this year. I imagine that we are not the only family in this situation either! I was thinking about how our family has approached things as well as what other parents might be struggling with, such as how we handle the conversation with our kids about holidays and holidays not being what we expect or anticipate.
I think one of the most important things we can do as parents is be clear about what our plans are. I think at this point, two weeks away from Halloween, most families should come up with exactly what they are going to do. Are they going to trick or treat in their neighborhood? Are they going to any small events? Are they dressing up at all? Are they going to the pumpkin patch? All of the things you would normally do should be considered to see if you plan to do them this year. Once you and your parenting partner(s) decide the plan, I think it is best to clearly share it with your kid(s) so everyone knows what to expect.
Next up… we need to be really understanding about our kids’ feelings and spend time validating them and listening to how they feel about the change. Remember that a big part of holidays is the tradition around them and the expectation of the fun things we get to experience as a family. Whatever is different this year will likely be challenging in some way and we don’t want to brush off our kids’ feelings. Try asking them what they are really missing the most and see if it is possible to recreate it in a safe way!
Finally, if there is anything in your conversations with your kids that comes up as safe alternatives to the usual plans that involve lots of people, try to see if you can work that into your plan. Perhaps you can trick or treat between a few neighbors houses over and over. Perhaps you can do some extra zoom calls or “boo” treat bags for friends. While this year is not going as we had hoped it would in January, I do think we are all getting a bit better at rolling with whatever life hands us! While we can hope the same of our kids, we need to be sure to allow them the space and time to be upset, sad, or disappointed when things don’t go how they want. They are kids after all and they have much less experience at managing expectations than adults, despite 2020 giving them so many opportunities to do just that!
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