Celebrating Mother’s Day is a whole new ball-game after a split. It can be bring up emotions for kids and parents. Careful planning can help to make the day fun for everyone. Below are ideas and tips for Moms and Dads to consider when planning this Mother’s Day.
1. Focus on the kids
Review previous traditions that the kids are aware of . Is there a reasonable way to keep those traditions? Do the traditions involve grandparents of both parents? Does it involve Aunts and cousins? Allowing your kids to keep some of those traditions can help to reinforce the idea that they are part of a bigger family and that not everything has changed.
Know in advance who has custody of the kids this day and make a plan that focus’ on the kids.
…work with your ex as calmly as possible to clarify the day’s logistics.
We strongly suggest in the case of two moms, sharing the kids this day. Morning at one mom’s and late afternoon, evening with the other mom. Know that they will have some guilt if a mom is left out. Make the day easy for them.
If Dad has custody of the kids this day, consider trading weekends, or collaborating with your ex to carve out time during the day for them to spend with her.
If Mom has custody but the kids traditionally spend some time with the Paternal Grandmother or Aunt, work out time with your ex to allow the kids to spend a few hours with them. Use the time to do something for you.
Kids feel guilt – do everything you can to alleviate that. If the children live too far away to physically see their mom on this day, plan to Zoom, FaceTime or Skype. Dad – help the kids to select a present on Amazon, send flowers or even cards that will reach their mom close to Mother’s Day. Before is better than after. Mom – if you have them all day, or just part of a day, put on a happy face for the time you see your kids. Call a friend, line up a massage or a special movie to treat yourself.
2. Tips for Dad
Make the day conflict free – that is the best present to give your kids!
Mother’s Day may be a difficult time for you. If the separation is new, you may still be sorting out your own feelings. Focus on the kids and what it means to them and how important their mom is to them. Know that Father’s Day is coming up and you may be the be the one who is setting the tone for managing these days.
Give a little. Ask your ex what she wants for Mother’s Day. Try to be accommodating. A small thing like swapping weekends reaffirms that their mom is important and that you respect their relationship. If this has been a time that your kids typically see your mom, or sister, ask your ex if there is short time during the day that she can either bring the kids by to see them, or offer to take them yourself. Be prepared that she may say no. If your sister or mom have had their own relationship with her, they can reach out on their own. If you can afford it, offer to buy your ex a massage or a mani-pedi that she can have while the kids are visiting your family.
Help the kids, even if they are feeling angry about the split. A mother/child relationship is one of the major influences in a child’s life. The better the relationship, the better it is for their own long-term wellbeing. Help them write cards or buy presents if possible. If the mother is a danger due to drugs, alcohol, or mental illness, consider a supervised visit with a trusted friend or family member, possibly a joint meal with you. If none of that is possible, or feels too uncomfortable, help the kids send a card or present. Each of these are a great way to keep the kids safe and allow them to show their love. Create a safe place for them to talk about what they are feeling. Feeling heard is an important element of feeling loved.
If the kids spend the day with their mom, take care of yourself. Plan something you enjoy with people you enjoy. If you have buddies who will be on their own, plan a get together. Go to a game, plan a BBQ, hike, or a game of golf. Do something that you really enjoy. If you start to feel sad or feel sorry for yourself (we all do sometimes), remember that you did this for your kids and be PROUD that you put them first.
3. Tips for moms
Just like the tips for Dads, make the day conflict free – that is the best present to give your kids!
Know in advance this day might be difficult. Let go of any expectations for what the day will hold. Work with your ex as calmly as possible to clarify the day’s logistics. Know that if you can’t see them on Mother’s Day, you can celebrate the next time you are together. Be sure to make the best of it in front of the kids. Even little kids feel guilty and hurt when their parent is hurting. It might be a good idea to call them before they call you. They have no control over where they spend the day. Make it easy for them, then spend the day focusing on you. If you are going to be without kids, plan a day that will comfort you and bring you happiness. That might include:
- Focusing on your mom and planning a spa day, massage or mani-pedi
- A movie in the theater or at home
- A get together with other friends and supportive family who don’t have someone to celebrate the day with
- Head out to the beach, the mountain, or even back to the gym – a good work out will help to release endorphins and will lighten your mood.
- Play your favorite music and dance your socks off!
If you have the kids, plan activities and create new traditions:
- Let your kids help plan the day. Even young kids can put together an easy “breakfast in bed” – but you might need to help them with the menu.
- Have your kids help you build a Mother’s Day scrap book with pictures, poems, drawings, homemade cards all the artifacts of your loving relationship.
- Make dinner together, go out to eat, or bake goodies.
- Plan a tournament around games, shooting hoops, races, water balloon tosses. Staying active is less brooding. However, if you notice your child is having a hard time, ask them questions, be a safe place for them to discuss what they are feeling.
- If you feel that the day will be difficult for you and the kids alone, invite other friends with kids, watch movies, bake, play board games – include others in make the day fun.
Working together as parents to create fun memories, encourage and respect each other, and putting the kids first. This is important for every day, especially the holidays. Navigate your emotions, address them when the kids aren’t around. Focus on the fun for them. You’ll be glad you did!