medkids during the holiday season

5 Quick Tips to Help MedKids Navigate Holidays and Special Events

It’s that time of year again. How do you make the most of the holidays with the uncertainty of whether or not your spouse or partner will be able to join you and your kids in the festivities?

While there’s little to no chance (absolutely none) you can change such a circumstance, you do have control over how your child might experience the holidays without mom or dad because they have to work. 

Establish your own positive frame of mind first.

Remember, you and your spouse are the ones who set the tempo for the upcoming holiday or event. Send positive vibes with your body language and tone of voice. Look in the mirror when you’re practicing talking to your child – Are you smiling? Do you look happy? Do you have open body language? Is your tone happy? 

Know before you go.

Script it out. Know exactly what you’re going to say to your child so you don’t fumble the message. The goal is to leave them knowing exactly what’s going to happen so they don’t conjure scenarios in their own mind. 

Make sure you answer all the “W” questions, all the while keeping a positive perspective: 

  • Who: While dad or mom can’t be there, let them know who will be there that they’ll be excited to see (e.g., Nana and Pop pop; favorite cousins?). Not going anywhere? Organize FaceTimes or video get-togethers with family to add a little fun to everyone’s day.
  • What: Help build excitement by letting them in on what some of the day’s festivities will include.
  • Why: Why won’t mom or dad be there? This is where your positivity will shine and you can make a superhero out of mom/dad. Give your child the opportunity to enjoy the event, giving permission to be happy and not feel guilty or sad. It’s all in your delivery. 
  • Where: Create some positive anticipation by talking about where you’re going to go to celebrate the holiday. If you aren’t hosting or if you find yourself without family around, try to plan a fun activity to break up the day.
  • When: Kids feel more in control and comfortable when they know the plan. Give them an estimate of when they’ll get to celebrate the holiday or event with the absent parent.

Some time is better than no time at all.

If you can swing it, stop by the hospital to say ‘hi’ on the way to or from your event. Make it an adventure. Pile everyone into the car, bring dad/mom’s favorite treat, and play some tunes. Rockin’ out in the car isn’t fun… said no one ever. 

If that’s not an option, virtual is the next best thing. Coordinate a time to FT with your partner to say ‘hi’. This will infuse a little joy into everyone’s heart.

Before you do either, get in sync with your partner to ensure the interaction focuses on the positive of the day instead of the negative. Your partner can do this by staying upbeat and saying something like, “Thanks for … (coming by to see me, FaceTiming, etc)! Have a great time. I’m looking forward to celebrating with you when I get home. I love you!” instead of dwelling on how much they’re missed/missing.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Take pictures of the festivities and let your little one know you’re sending them to mommy/daddy. If they’re old enough, maybe let your kids take some! Make sure all interactions are positive here, too. Great responses from the missing parent: Any party/celebration emojis or gifs, “Glad you’re having fun!”, “Looks like fun!“, “Looking forward to hearing all about it!”.

I have an answer for that!

When people ask you why your loved one is missing, make the response positive! Little ones are always listening. Whatever explanation you use, start saying it to your child before the festivities. They’ll be confident responding vs. being put in an uncomfortable spot when someone asks them where their mom/dad is. 

“My mommy’s with people who need her help today. We get to celebrate again later!”

This is not to say any situation without your beloved around for holidays and special events is great. It’s more about making the most of the hand you’ve been dealt. It’s for you to decide if you make it a happy or sad occasion. We recommend you choose happy!

  • Elizabeth Landry

    Elizabeth is a Physician family advocate, Certified Life Coach for Physician Wives, EM wife of 20+ years, mother, and founder of The MedCommons – a marriage between her tech/business dev background and passion for helping physician families.

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