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Setting expectations for the holidays after divorce

As children get older, their views of the holiday season change. They may ask for larger, more expensive gifts or their lists may be shorter and shorter as the year's pass. They may understand their parents' roles in making their favorite season magical.

Unfortunately, their expectations may have to change quickly in the cases of divorce. Single parents often have to adjust their winter traditions to fit into a new parenting schedule or income bracket. It may drastically change your child's idea of the holidays.

Luckily, there are ways that parents can be proactive with setting expectations for their children's holidays and keep the magic alive after divorce.

Five strategies for managing the holidays

1. Include kids in the planning - not only is it critical that single parents plan out their holiday spending and plans early, they should actively involve their children in the process. For example, if you have an older teenager, they can help pick out presents for their siblings or act as "Santa's helper."

2. Create new traditions - most families have a plan for the holidays that includes all their favorite traditions. As a newly single parent, you can develop new traditions with your kids that involve activities may not have done in the past.

3. Have an open discussion with your kids - As the parent, you should discuss the plans or ideas with your kids beforehand. Let them contribute ideas of what they want from the season and explain what they can expect from you and their other parent. It will prevent any disappointments from their end.

4. Establish a budget before buying a single present - most single parents have to deal with a slight decrease in holiday funds. You should first establish a realistic budget for your holiday spending and stick to it. It's easy to get out of hand with tremendous gifts, but the season is about spending time with those you love rather than all the money in your wallet.

5. Stay positive - it seems rather simple, but it's an important tip. The holidays are tough for most parents, but they can be brutal for newly-single parents. You have to find ways to stay positive and maintain your sanity. Maybe focus on a workout routine or relaxation techniques that keep you in a great mindset.

Being single does not mean you can't enjoy the holiday season, you can find ways where you and your children can enjoy themselves without your spouse in the picture.

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