The holiday season is a time of joy, wonder, and cherished family traditions. As a parent navigating the complex terrain of divorce, ensuring my children's happiness during this time can be especially challenging. One common concern that often arises is how to reassure my kids that Santa knows mum and dad are divorced and will find them, even in the midst of a separated family arrangement.
It's completely natural for children to worry about Santa's ability to locate them when their parents no longer live under the same roof. However, the magic of Christmas and Santa's boundless spirit can transcend any logistical challenges.
In this article, I'll share some heartwarming ways I've discovered to help my divorced children understand that Father Christmas knows exactly where they are and will visit them on Christmas Eve, bringing the same joy and gifts as always.
Help them write a letter to Santa
I used to love writing letters to my grandparents as a child, and I did so anytime something remotely eventful happened in my life. Looking back, it was a way for me to acknowledge reality by putting it in writing and letting my emotions out without the fear of judgement.
Writing letters was - and still is - therapeutic for me because it is a way to express what I feel all at once without interruptions.
So, encouraging her to write a letter so that Santa knows mum and dad are divorced was my first strategy to ease my youngest daughter's worries. At first, she was hesitant to share the sad news at a time when people were supposed to be merry, but I managed to convince her that Santa wouldn't mind.
As she started writing, she was able to pour her feelings into the simple letter and became less anxious. I also suggested informing Santa about which address she would be spending Christmas in, so there's absolutely no way he'd get lost.
Of course, you can expect things to be a little emotional, reading how your children feel about the separation. But rest assured that this can be a leap toward healing, too.
This simple act can even kick-start a habit of journaling - a useful tool for managing their emotions.
Explain Santa's magic
Is your child worried that Santa Claus won't be able to find them because the hotel they would stay in with their dad in Southeast Asia would probably have no chimney?
The great thing about Santa is that you can project everything good onto him.
He has a GPS that will always spot nice children. His herd of reindeer can fly him anywhere, even without a passport. He can squeeze into the tiniest window gap. Time slows down for him, enabling him to get to every child in a few earthly hours. He has a magic key that opens the doors of good kids' homes. Plus, he is immune from deadly viruses. You can tweak Santa's magical powers to respond to your child's worries.
Tell your child what to expect
Of course, it's not all magic and absurdity.
After all, your kids cannot escape the reality of their parents' divorce. Hence, you must also prepare your child for things they should expect this season.
If they are spending the holidays with the other parent, tell them that you will not be there, their dad's family will surround them, and they will encounter new traditions they can take part in. Moreover, even if the setup differs, Christmas is still fun.
Reassure them that because Santa knows mum and dad are divorced, it makes him want to go the extra mile ... even if that means extending his trip to separate houses. That also means your children can expect Santa to leave gifts for them in both homes!
Arrange a personalised message from Santa
Are you worried your child is heading down the non-believer route? Or did an older sibling tell them that Santa is just a myth? What better way to convince her than showing evidence that Santa not just exists, but knows their name?
Thankfully, there are now a handful of amazing apps that can quickly help you create personalised messages from Santa. From customised phone calls, video messages, and letters, these Santa apps will surely keep the Christmas magic alive for your little ones.
There is no match for the joy in their eyes when they hear Father Christmas calling them by their name.
Use a Santa tracker
Santa knows mum and dad are divorced, but your children can rest assured that he's still coming with their presents. A Santa tracker app or website is an incredible tool to build up anticipation and excitement leading up to Christmas.
One of the most prominent is the NORAD Tracks Santa official website. The Christmas-themed program officially starts on December 1, but the actual simulation of Santa's journey from the North Pole is midnight on December 23.
Set up a viewing station adorned with Christmas decor where your little ones can wait until Santa reaches your or your ex's place. You can also engage in fun holiday activities as you wait, like baking sugar cookies or playing Christmas games, to distract your kids from potential anxieties about Santa's arrival.
Get the Santa story straight with the other parent
As co-parents, it's a good idea to be on the same page when it comes to your Santa story. That way, neither of you will be caught off guard or say the wrong things that can confuse the kids. Your story has to be consistent to keep the Christmas magic alive.
In light of the season's spirit, you both have to get your stories straight. Communicate, agree on essential details, iron out inconsistencies, plan how Santa will deliver the presents, and decide on his ETA.
If possible, you could also celebrate together, even for a portion of Christmas morning, if only to reinforce the idea that Christmas is a season of joy and togetherness.
Create new Santa traditions
As a child, a steaming cup of hot chocolate topped with marshmallows and crushed peppermint candies would sit beside my present on Christmas mornings. It was the one day of the year mum allowed me to have lollies in the morning, so I really looked forward to it.
You can create new Santa traditions for your family, too. You can adorn your home with Santa-themed decor like snow, sleds, reindeer, elves, and socks. Your children can write letters to Father Christmas, which you can drop at the post box together. You can also leave pieces of evidence of his visit, like footprints or a half-eaten plate of cookies, to reassure them that he came, especially because Santa knows mum and dad are divorced now.
I'm sure that even when your children grow and understand the reality of Santa, these simple traditions will leave happy Christmas memories.
Further reading: 30 New Christmas traditions for separated families.
Involve older siblings
Finally, if you have older children, seek their help making Christmas meaningful and magical for their little siblings. Start by convincing them it's not a good idea or time to reveal that Santa's not real. Ask them if they can dress up as Santa's elves. Then, ask them to corroborate your Santa stories. Fingers crossed they'd join in.
Every family is different, so this can be easy or tricky, depending on your situation. In my case and those of my friends' families, older siblings are usually cooperative, especially during the Christmas season. Even if they do not believe in Santa anymore, most kids are rarely Grinches, especially toward their little brothers and sisters.
Of course, your older children are not just there to help make the younger ones feel good on Christmas. Remember to give them a gift to make their holiday special and meaningful, too.
Final words: Helping your child understand that Santa knows mum and dad are divorced
The holiday season is a time of joy, wonder, and cherished family traditions.
As a mum navigating the complex terrain of divorce, ensuring your children's happiness during this time can be incredibly challenging. One common concern is reassuring your kids that Santa knows mum and dad are divorced and will find them, even amid a separated family arrangement.
It's natural for children to worry about Santa's ability to locate them when their parents no longer live under the same roof. However, the magic of Christmas and Santa's boundless spirit can transcend any logistical challenges.
Ultimately, your efforts as a mum to make this day special reinforce the idea that the spirit of the season, symbolised by Santa, overcomes any challenges and continues to bring happiness and togetherness to your family, regardless of your circumstances.