The holidays this year are likely to be lacking in many of the traditions we hold dear. Visiting family and friends, sharing food and presents, gathering to celebrate with our communities–all of this and more may be restricted by the ongoing pandemic. For children, this year’s holiday season may be stressful, disappointing, or scary.
Talking to your kids about their feelings–and how everyone needs to take extra safety precautions–is vitally important. Everyone will have to make the best of a socially distant holiday this year, but that doesn’t mean we have to nix all the festive cheer. Read on for tips on how to help kids cope with a COVID holiday.
Kids always pick up on more than we give them credit for–but their understanding may be warped by their own fears and misconceptions. For example, a question that many children are asking this is not “Does Santa exist?” but “Can Santa get the coronavirus?”
It makes a certain kind of sense, doesn’t it? Santa is supposed to travel around the whole world, visiting countless homes during a pandemic and eating cookies left out by strangers. This could be a good opportunity to talk about how Santa and the elves are working to stay safe–wearing masks, washing their hands, and standing farther apart.
You could suggest leaving out hand sanitizer instead of a glass of milk this year. Say that you’ve asked Santa to deliver the presents to the front porch this year, just like the mailman and the delivery drivers, so that it’s a hands-free experience for everyone.
Chances are good that your child is worried about the virus in everyday life and projecting that anxiety onto Santa Claus. Unfortunately, there’s a lot to worry about. The CDC has stated that “small household gathers are an important contributor to the rise in COVID-19 cases.”
Virtual celebrations are much safer, even if they’re not as much fun. Inviting people into your home who don’t live there, including relatives, is risky. Visiting with grandparents may not be possible this year–something that’s likely to be disappointing for everyone.
One way to help make things easier for older kids to understand is to explain that this year, we’re all making a choice to stay home so that next year we can be together. Younger children, unfortunately, probably won’t understand why the holidays are so different this year. Your best course of action is to make the celebration at home feel special with over-the-top decorations as well as games, movies, and treats.