Summer is one of the most anticipated seasons of the year with more time to relax and sunny days ahead. However, if you are divorced, this season may cause a difficult change in your normal routine with your co-parent. Ideally, summer vacations and custody schedules are clearly written in your Parenting Plan, but sometimes timing isn’t right, and you wish you could plan your vacation without stress or coordinating with others.

As summer is now upon us, we’d like to share some tips on how to keep summer fun and relaxing time for everyone!

1. Plan Ahead

While this seems obvious, it’s something that can be forgotten when we are already so busy in the present. Taking the time and effort to figure out an idea of what you want your summer to look like can make a huge impact on later stress. Consider that vacations to visit family members are important but, if outside your custody time, you may want to consider if time with your children during the Parenting Plan week would be better spent together than holding strong to the dates if your co-parent is likely to said ‘no’. As a strategy, start by reviewing your parenting plan and/or what you and your co-parent have agreed to. If you want to request a change, request it but remember, you have no control over the other parent and they have the right to say no. Tip: Keep it simple and stress free for yourself by thinking ahead and planning vacations on your custody time

2. Be Flexible

We can never predict what may happen in the future and plans may need to be adjusted. When you are flexible with your co-parent, they may be encouraged to be flexible with you! You will want to plan for vacations, but every minute of every day does not need to be planned. Consider this, children want to sleep and play during the summer. Vacations are things that adults want to do and children go along and have fun. Tip: Talk with your children about their ideal vacation time. Brainstorm ideas like days at the beach, visit parks or museums, plan walks or hikes in the evenings, play outside, and have fun. Listen to what they say and plan something that will be fun for all of you.

3. Vacations Are NOT Competitions

Simply put, your children are not in the game of “hmmm, I wonder which parent will plan the better vacation this year”. Parents sometimes create these competitions. We encourage you to relieve yourself of the pressure to spend money you don’t have in order to compete with your co-parent about whose vacation was better. Children just want to have time with no school, no early morning start to their day and most hope for a later bedtime. Your child’s love is nothing to compete for, and most definitely cannot be bought with money. Simple summer activities can feel like a fun vacation if you worry less about what the other parent is planning and focus more on your plans with your children. Tip: Focus on fun activities that create memories that will last a lifetime. A simple day of playing in the plastic pool in your front yard with fresh made lemonade or ice tea that you watch brew all day may provide much more quality time memories that an afternoon at the Waterpark where you wait in lines for hours to go down waterslides. Summer is about fun memories. Keep it simple!

4. Remember The Purpose Of Summer Vacations

Summer is meant to be a time for fun! When you’re planning your summer activities, don’t forget to enjoy them too. A vacation is meant to build a deeper connection with your children and make memories that you’ll both cherish. As long as you’re keeping your children safe, having their best interests in mind, and communicating with your co-parent, summer vacations should be a breeze! Tip: Keep it safe and let your children share the fun!

We hope these tips helped to relieve some stress about the summer after a separation. Enjoy your summer with your kids and enjoy the times without them too! Summer is also a great time for yourself to decompress and find what you enjoy when you’re alone. Make the most out of your summer and enjoy the next few months of sun!

The term “Love Language” was developed by Dr. Gary Chapman and he believes that learning someone’s love language is essential to connecting on a more meaningful level.

Do you ever feel frustrated when your children squirm from hugs and kisses? Or, maybe you shower them in compliments and they seem annoyed? There is nothing wrong with showing love and support in this way, but for some children it may make them uncomfortable. If this is your child, THEY ARE OKAY! In reviewing Dr. Gary Chapman’s “Love Languages” for adults, we see some similarities for how they apply and are adapting them to parent-child relationships. The “Love Languages” are words of affirmation (compliments), quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch. This Valentine’s Day, we challenge you to notice how your child responds to your typical way of showing love and, if you notice they may not like your way, we encourage you to try some of these ideas and see how it goes.

Words of Affirmation

Do you have a child that asks, “did I do that right? or is this right? or did I do a good job?” Or maybe they glow with joy whenever you compliment them? Do you find your child praising you? If you found yourself saying yes to any of these questions, then maybe your child needs words of affirmation!

Your child may receive love and support best when you communicate through words of encouragements, praise and gratitude. Examples may be “you did a great job!”, “thank you for helping me with cleaning the house!” or “I am so lucky to be your parent!”. Here are a few ways to offer words of affirmation to your child:

  • Slip a sweet note in their lunchbox. (It could be as simple as a smile face on their napkin)
  • Praise them both privately and in front of others. (Be mindful not to embarrass your child)
  • Notice & acknowledge their efforts. (Say things like, “I like how you worked so hard on your homework today”)
  • Call them by a nickname they like. (Remember not to embarrass them in front of others)

Quality Time

In our programs, we hear from children all the time that they want their parents to pay attention to them. Do you have a child that interrupts you a lot? A child that likes to show you what they are doing? Do they ask you to join them when they’re playing? If you found yourself saying yes to any of these questions, then maybe your child needs more quality time with you!

Your child may receive love and support best when you give them your undivided attention. You do not have to be with them 24/7, but even 10 minutes off of your devices may make a huge difference for children needing quality time. Here are a few ways to give the gift of quality time to your child:

  • Dedicate and commit to spending on-on-one time with your child. (Read a book, do a puzzle, play a board game, teach them how to ride a bike, cook a meal together, whatever it is, remember to have the time be age appropriate)
  • Turn off your phone and leave it in another room while helping with homework
  • Go on a walk together
  • Take them with you when you run errands and make it fun. (Remember, you are teaching your children how to be adults some day so making grocery shopping fun can be creating a budget together and sticking to it or asking your child to choose the vegetables or fruits to buy. Giving choices works here too!)

Receiving Gifts

Do you have a child that cherishes every gift they’ve received? Does your child not ask for more things, but glows when you surprise them with a gift? Maybe your child takes the time to unwrap a gift they’re given? If you found yourself saying yes to any of these questions, then maybe your child sees love and support through receiving gifts!

Your child may receive love and support best when they receive physical tokens that express your love to them. Receiving gifts does not mean your child only cares about the material object or that you should buy them things. It means that they cherish the fact that you spent time thinking about them and choosing a gift that would make them happy! Here are a few ways to support your child if they like knowing you are thinking about them:

  • Create a chore chart with your child. (Put stickers or draw stars on the chart when they accomplish the chores. This can also work with homework, daily hygiene or whatever your hopes and expectations are for your children. Get creative, post it on the refrigerator or the wall and catch your child doing good things, then reward them with the sticker or star. Words are not necessary because if your child likes it when you spend time thinking about you (receiving gifts), they’ll notice the chart!
  • Keep a treasure chest to surprise them with occasionally. (This could be a box, container, hope chest, whatever you have. Put baby pictures in there, a few current pictures that you want to treasure, art work, school projects/tests, a napkin or something with a logo on it that reminds you of a place you and your child went or a place you hope to take them some day)
  • Leave a sweet note or pick a flower to put in their lunchbox
  • Value any gift they give to you! (Whether it’s a drawing or a project, tell them how much you like it by hanging it up. Don’t worry if it doesn’t match your home decor, everyone will notice it and you will be able to proudly share that your child made it)

Acts of Service

Does your child like to ask for help when you are busy, even with things they know how to do on their own? Does your child like it when you make their lunch instead of telling them to eat the free lunch at school?  Does your child get upset when you say you are listening, but you are on your phone or laptop? If you found yourself saying yes to any of these questions, then maybe your child is at their best through acts of service, meaning actions are louder than words!

Your child may receive love and support best when they see you do what you say and you say what you mean. You do not have to do every request your child asks (as fostering self-reliance is important), but an occasional yes to their asks for help can go a long way. Here are a few ways to implement acts of service with your child:

  • Even though you know your child can do something independently, if they ask, stop what you’re doing and help them. (As you are helping them, remember to praise and encourage throughout and say things like, “I know you could have done this yourself but I’m happy you want to do it together”. Comments like this will go a long way, especially as your children grow into teens and young adults. They’ll know you are a parent they can count on and who prioritizes them)
  • When they accomplish something, make their favorite meal as a reward or take the time out of your busy schedule to show up and be present. (When your child invites you to something, show up. Put work and other priorities aside and show up for your kid. They will notice!)
  • Teach your children life-work balance. (When you child does something great, like get a 100% on a test, reward them by giving them a day off from chores or step away from you busy schedule and bake a cake to celebrate together)
  • Bring them snacks or water while they’re doing their homework. (Parents so often think homework time needs to be uninterrupted or their child will get distracted. Bringing in a snack or drink can be a silent act. Just think, one day you will be working at home completely focused and your child may bring you a snack or drink. How cool would that be?)

Physical Touch

Does your child love to play with your hair or really like it when you brush their hair? Does your child ask to be held or cuddled? Does your child like to practically sit on your lap or as close as possible, even though you may think they are too old for cuddles or that much closeness? If you found yourself saying yes to any of these questions, then maybe your child sees love and support through physical touch!

Your child may receive love and support best through affectionate, parental warmth! When we think of physical touch in relation to our children, most of us think about hugs and kisses. Here are a few ways to offer physical touch with your child:

  • Cuddle and watch a movie together. (Add some popcorn for added fun)
  • Give high fives or create a special handshake. (Children love special handshakes!)
  • When you notice your child may be feeling sad or upset, ask your child if they need a hug. (If they say no, ask what they do need)
  • Give hugs/kisses when they leave for school or to say goodnight (But remember, not all children like physical touch so don’t push it on them. Ask permission and if they say no, figure out which other way of showing love and support is best for your child. Also remember, not all children are alike. Some may like hugs and kisses and others may prefer quality time)

Remember, children are unique and their way of receiving love and support is unique to them. We encourage you to pay attention to how your child reacts when you show them different ways of love and support and then try out the different suggestions. If your children are old enough to have a conversation, share this blog with them and figure it out together.

No matter the way, Happy Valentine’s Day!

*To learn more about Dr. Gary Chapman’s love languages for children, please see his book, “The 5 Love Languages of Children“.


Merry Mindfulness through the Holidays

The holiday season can be a stressful time when it comes to traveling, coordinating with family, and, if you’re a co-parent, figuring out how to share the kids for holiday fun. With the holidays coming up, you may experience heightened conflict between you and your co-parent and a stir of emotions and stress. This year, let the holidays stay merry and bright! Read on to learn how to manage any difficult feelings that may come up through mindful parenting strategies.

Make Spirits Merry & Bright!

The holidays are meant to be a joyous time; allow yourself to enjoy it! Although a separated family situation can cause conflict, know that you have control over yourself and the ability to make choices regardless of your co-parent! Choose HAPPY! Here are some ways you can have a jolly good holiday season through mindfulness techniques:

1. Balance the should’s with your needs

Do you ever catch yourself thinking, “I should be with my kid not them”, “I should have gotten my child a better gift.”, or “I shouldn’t be making so many mistakes.”? These “should” statements are cognitive distortions that impose heavy expectations as concrete rules for ourselves. Thinking in “should’s” can lead to resentment, guilt, and burnout.

This holiday season, if you catch yourself thinking in “should’s”, observe how making this expectation is affecting you. Know that you are human and have limitations. No one is a perfect parent. Take the time to sit with this and make space to meet your needs instead of expectations. By setting realistic goals and caring for yourself, you will be stronger to care for others!

2. Practice Self-Compassion

When your child is struggling or in pain, your immediate response is probably to see if you can help in some way. When you are struggling or in pain, would you want the same? This holiday season, there may be times where you feel lonely, sad, or angry. When these emotions come up, practice self-compassion! Think, “how do I recognize what is going on for me” and “if my friend or my child told me that they were feeling the way I am, what would I do for them to make them feel better?”. Take your answer and do it for yourself. You deserve the same love you give to those around you!

3. Be Open to Emotions

During the rush of the holidays, it’s easy to just go, go, go and be completely unaware of what is happening around and within you. Stay attentive and receptive to your child’s and your own emotions. The holidays bring up a load of emotions, and it may be so overwhelming that they are difficult to identify. A great practice with your child is to begin identifying the emotions they are feeling. Check in throughout the holiday season to ask them how they’re feeling. Try to name the emotion together, why this emotion was brought up, and what they want to do next. Likewise, you can ask yourself these questions. Allowing yourself to be open to emotions with your child and yourself can foster a great sense of security and peace.

4. Indulge in Gratitude

By developing your own awareness for the gifts and blessings in your life, your children will follow suit! The holiday season is a wonderful time to begin incorporating gratitude practice into your everyday life. Gratitude can sound like, “I’m so thankful we get to spend some time together!”, “I’m blessed to be alive and healthy today!”, or “I am so lucky to be a parent”. Make the gratitude concrete by sitting with your children at dinner (or the end of your time together) to think of one thing you were grateful for that day. You can even create a gratitude jar where everyone writes down something they’re thankful for and add it into a jar. Then when a negative headspace arrives, you or your child can open the notes and remind yourselves of these moments! Gratitude is simple but has great effects! The more you and your children practice gratitude, the more you’ll find yourself noticing all the things to be grateful for.

5. The Gift of the Present

There is no better gift than the present! It is so easy to fall into the trap of wishing for the simpler days of the past, or anticipating the events of the future. While it is good to take moments to reminisce and plan ahead, don’t let the present slip away! Practice being fully present in your current space, especially when you have the gift of being with your child. Rather than planning out what you need to do next, stop and think about your five senses. When you’re with your kid you can ask them what they hear. Maybe it’ll become your next favorite holiday song! Ask what do you smell. Are there delicious baked goods around or a favorite meal? Ask what do you see. Enjoy the sight of beautiful holiday décor! Ask what do you taste. Maybe a delicious homemade meal? Ask what do you feel. Embrace and cherish a warm hug with one another! It is great to practice this sense of presence through your five senses. Your children will be grateful once they grow up, smell the scent of cookies, and think of the times you’ve spent together.

We hope these tips help you have a mindful and merry holiday season! Happy holidays from our family to yours!

Tricks (or Treats!) for Co-Parenting on Halloween

Halloween is quickly approaching which means lots of sweet treats, crazy costumes, and family fun! However, if your family is experiencing divorce, Halloween may also be a stressful time as it starts the difficult question of, “how do we share the kids for the holidays?”. Whatever the decision there is not one parent who wins or loses! Your whole family can have a fun and spooktacular Halloween with these tricks to co-parenting on Halloween!

Being able to both accompany your children as they trick-or-treat is ideal for children in divorced families. If you choose to share the night together, here are some tricks to remember:

1. Put your child first!

Being around your co-parent can bring out complicated thoughts and feelings. Despite these emotions, remember that successful co-parenting occurs when each parent values how important it is to put their child first! Take time to listen to what your child wants to do. Maybe they want to trick-or-treat with their friends, or dress up and parade around the house. Halloween is a holiday for the kids to have fun! If it’s possible, for the one night, put aside your own feelings and make decisions with your child in mind first.

2. Make decisions ahead of time.

One of the most important things to avoid on Halloween is arguing in front of your children. Show your children that you and your co-parent can cooperate! This means that you’ll want to figure out how the night will go ahead of time. Things to consider are what time you’ll meet up, what neighborhood you’ll be going to, how long you’ll stay out for, and who your child goes home with at the end of the night. Making these decisions ahead of time will help make the rest of the night flow smoothly!

3. Enjoy the night!

Children pick up on tension and stress easily, so it is important for you to relax and enjoy the night as well! Take pictures of your child in their costume, hold their hand as you walk around, and simply let yourself enjoy the quality time you are getting with your child. Yes, your co-parent may be with you as well but that does not have to change the fun that your child has, or that you have. By doing this, you send a message to your child that says, “We love you and are committed to making you happy! We can put aside our issues for you.”

Not all cases are the same, so if you would rather choose to split the day or alternate which of you is with the children each year, here are some ideas on how to handle your Halloween:

1. Leave the Choosing to the Parents

Do not force your child to choose between one parent or the other. Putting your child in the position of choosing parents can be emotionally distressing so do not set them up for disappointment or unnecessary stress. Your child comes from both you and your co-parent, so they love you both! Talk to your co-parent to decide who will have your child at what time/year/days. If this seems difficult, you can always reach out for professional help!

2. Create new traditions!

Just because you do not have your kids on Halloween night does not mean the fun ends. Create a new tradition with your kids! Halloween events occur throughout all of October. Maybe your business throws a Halloween party that you can take your kids to? Does your community host any trunk or treat events, or pumpkin patches? Could you find a day to watch Halloween movies and decorate the house together? Halloween is not limited to one day. Your child will feel lucky that they get to celebrate Halloween more than once, and you will both get to bond during this quality time together!


3. Share the highlights.

Send photos of your children in their costumes to your co-parent. Let your children know you are doing this, as it is a kind gesture that will feel good to your children. If you’re the parent getting the picture, when you see your children, make sure you tell them how much you loved their costume! Stay engaged with your child and ask them about how the night went or what their favorite parts were. These simple actions can help your children feel more comfortable and confident about your family’s divorce because they’ll know you are still part of their life.

We hope these tricks help make Halloween a treat for your entire family! Remember that using a creative and kid centered approach to sharing holidays can make even the most complicated situations a success. Happy Halloween!


Your children have two parents, and you both deserve to be celebrated — so CELEBRATE!

With June 20th right around the corner, it’s time to think about Father’s Day!

Father’s Day is a day to celebrate and honor those who have embraced the role of fatherhood or the role of being a dad. It is a day to thank all the dads, fathers, and father figures for their commitment to raising and nurturing children.

What is a DAD? A dad is a Dependable Adult whose key responsibility is to help their children Develop into respectable community members.

What is a FATHER? A father is a parent Figure who Advocates for their children, provides a sense of Togetherness, strives for childhood Happiness, and Empowers their children to be Responsible community members.

What is a father figure? Anyone can be a father figure! It could be a mom, grandparent, coach, friend’s parent, teacher, mentor, older sibling, cousin or family member. Father figures may be related or not.

Father’s Day is about honoring all these people!

Over the past year, while we all lived through the pandemic, some dads and fathers have really struggled. For various reasons, they haven’t seen their children, and they are hurting. Every month in our Family Workshops for Separated and Divorced Families, we heard from a dad, “I haven’t seen my children in months” — with the most recent comment being, “I haven’t seen my children in 15 months, and they tell me that I am toxic and bad and that they do not want to see me.” How is it possible that an 8-year-old child would refer to their parent as “toxic”? This is not a word we hear often. It is not a common social media word. It is not a word taught in school.

One of the saddest aspects of divorce is when one parent says so many negative things about their “ex-spouse” that the children begin to take on their parent’s words as their own. Parents say, “I don’t ever say negative things about my child’s other parent in front of my children,” but they forget that children hear and see everything. When you are on the phone talking about your divorce, even when your children are in another room or actively engaged in an activity, they stop and listen. They hear everything!

The reality is, when you are divorced, your relationship with your “ex-spouse” is no longer necessary.

Think about this: When you are “ex-spouses,” you are still engaging in an emotional relationship. If your immediate response is “No, I’m not!” — then maybe you are still emotionally involved.

Being in an emotional relationship with your child’s other parent is common, but unnecessary. After all, if you wanted the emotional relationship, you could have remained married. On this Father’s Day, it is time to let it go! Focus on healing yourself and on moving on. Try this:

Instead of referring to your child’s other parent as your “ex-spouse,” refer to them as your “co-parent.” Now all communication with this other person is about your sharing the role of parent. Nothing less and nothing more. Is it that simple? Yes. Is it easy? No way!

So how do you transition into this new mentality? Yes, divorce is a transition. Not only for your children, but for you, too! This transition may include: leaving or selling a house you may love, leaving behind a neighborhood of friends, losing friends because they were your co-parent’s friends, losing family traditions because you can’t go to your co-parent’s house anymore for holidays, moving into a smaller place, losing half of your income to child support or spousal support — and let’s not forget the misery you may feel because your children are living with their other parent half the time.

Transition is real. Transition can be painful. Transition may be sad. Transition can be a time of healing, a time of freedom and a time of change. Transition leads to a new normal. Transition leads to stability. Transition becomes a place of acceptance and a place of happiness.

Whether you are a mom or a dad, Father’s Day is a time for you to step into a place of personal healing. How? Help your children make Father’s Day cards or gifts. Encourage them to be creative and to celebrate their other parent. Paint rocks, color pictures, help your child write a song or poem.

Father’s Day is not about spending money on gifts. It is not about control. It should never be something one parent can manipulate or make their children feel bad about.

Father’s Day is about recognizing the other person who helped make your beautiful children. If for no other reason than that, Father’s Day is a day to teach your children to recognize and celebrate their other parent.

As we transition out of the pandemic and into our new normal, I encourage you to make it this kind of a day. Your children have two parents, and you both deserve to be celebrated — so CELEBRATE!


By Executive Director Cindy Grossman, LCSW

As fun as the holidays can be, they can also bring a good deal of stress — not to mention when COVID-19 is spreading and stay-at-home orders are in place.

With COVID-19 concerns, co-parents worry about what will happen at the other parent’s home. Are our children going to family gatherings? Did they get together with large groups? You want your children to be safe while enjoying the holidays.

So, what can we do to have a safe and enjoyable holiday that is as stress-free as possible?

Here are our top tips for co-parenting through a COVID-19 holiday. And don’t miss the Facebook Live conversation on this topic featuring Executive Director Cindy Grossman!

Focus on what you can control.

You can certainly share your concerns about COVID precautions with your co-parent, but ultimately you have zero control over what happens at your co-parent’s house. So, what can you control?

You can prepare your children to protect themselves, and you can make a COVID-prevention plan for your own home. Sit down with your children and create a prevention strategy for whenever anyone returns to the home. For example, maybe clothes should be change or put right into the washing machine, or maybe everyone will take a bath or shower.

Remind your children to wash their hands. Make or purchase face masks that you think your children would like to wear and encourage them to wear them whenever they are outside their homes. Get them some hand sanitizer and attach it to their backpack.

Use a yard stick or measuring tape and stand apart to show your children what six feet of distance looks like. By measuring out six feet together, your children will have a visual idea of what “social distancing” means and how they can keep their distance to stay safer.

Remember, you can do all of this at your own home, but you have no control outside of your home. If you feel it necessary to get COVID tests when your children return to your home, if you are able to get them, this is one thing you would have control to implement.

Discuss and coordinate holiday plans ahead of time.

Whether or not you have court orders for how holiday time with your children should be shared, be sure to plan ahead and coordinate holiday time. Discuss via email so that you can have a record of what was discussed and eliminate any confusion. Planning ahead reduces stress and chaos for both co-parents and children alike. Plus, children can have fun with both parents without worrying! Children crave structure, so create a calendar for holiday plans that will help children know what to expect.

Be flexible and focus on creating new traditions.

Remember that the holidays are not about a specific date. Yes, the calendar shows that Hanukkah begins December 10th and Christmas Day is December 25th, but YOUR holiday is when you are able to be with your children. Focus on creating memories and new traditions to make the holiday time you do have together extra special. Play games, watch movies, drink hot chocolate, have a dance party, or make ornaments! In the end, your children just want to spend time with you. The holiday is the time together, not the date.

Communicate with your children.

Listen to your children and validate their feelings. You are living in two different family units, and it may be more stressful or upsetting during the holidays. Remind your children that it’s okay to have lots of feelings, and that all their feelings are important. When your children are leaving for their other parent’s house, please don’t tell them how much you will miss them or how sad you are they will not be with you on the holiday. If you do this, your children may feel guilty about leaving you or feel sad for you. Sending them off worried about you isn’t fair to them!

Instead, encourage your children to have a good time with their other parent, and tell them you will see them when they get back. Although the holidays are a fun time, please don’t tease your children with hints about all the fun things or surprises you have for when they get back. They deserve to have a happy time at their other parent’s house without holding back because they are anticipating the fun things they will do with you when they return.

Your children deserve to have relationships with both of their parents, and we hope you will let this happen for your children. Regardless of how you feel, we encourage you to keep your feelings to yourself and take care of you without sharing your feelings with your children. Remember, the holidays are not a date, they are family time, whenever the family time occurs.

Don’t make the holidays a competition.

Your children’s other parent is not “better” if they can give more gifts than you. Remember that the meaning of the holiday comes from time spent together and special memories made. Your children will treasure the meaningful moments with you more than any present they open.

2020 has been a challenging year for us all. As we try to put the difficulties of this year behind us, we encourage you to do the same with your co-parenting relationship. Whatever you’ve been struggling with and dealing with as co-parents, aim to go into 2021 with positivity and respect in your co-parenting relationship. Your children will thank you for putting them first.

Happy Holidays from Kids' Turn San Diego!


“After everything that's happened, how can the world still be so beautiful? Because it is..."

It’s Thanksgiving already! This year has flown by and also seemed sooo long! We encourage you to take some time and notice the beauty in everything around you.

Among all the uncertainty, focus your energy on what you can control and be thankful for all of it! We invite you to reflect and appreciate. Create Thanksgiving memories with your children that they will remember forever.

No matter what your holiday plans are, this will be a Thanksgiving like none other. 

Traditional Thanksgiving gatherings with family and friends are fun but can increase the chances of getting sick or spreading COVID-19. Here are some ways to help everyone stay safe and healthy.

The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is to celebrate with people in your household. If you do plan to spend Thanksgiving with people outside your household, take steps to help make your celebration safer.

Hosting a Thanksgiving gathering

If you are having guests in your home, before they arrive, ask them to agree to take steps to keep your Thanksgiving celebration as safe as possible. Ask guests to wear masks, to wash hands frequently and to maintain a social distance of at least 6 feet.

Other steps you can take include:

  • Have a small, distanced outdoor meal with family and friends.
  • Limit the number of guests and follow state guidelines.
  • Have conversations with guests ahead of time to set expectations for safely celebrating together.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and items between use, and do not share utensils or serving spoons.
  • If celebrating indoors, make sure to open windows to circulate fresh air.
  • Limit the number of people in food preparation areas.
  • Have guests bring their own food and drinks.
  • If you are sharing food, have one person serve food and use single-use options, like plastic utensils.

To review Thanksgiving guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), click here.

Prefer not to gather? Here are some alternate ways to celebrate.
  • Try a virtual Zoom or FaceTime Thanksgiving with family and friends who are far away.
  • Enjoy the holiday with a special celebration with members of your household.
  • Watch a holiday movie with your household or plan a virtual Watch Party.
  • Call family members, especially grandparents, and share what you are all thankful for this season.
  • Make family Thanksgiving posters and drive to family homes, honking the horn, so they come out and see your posters while you stay in your car.
Activities with the family
  • Play a gratitude game where each person writes down what they are thankful for and shares it with other family members.
  • Get ideas for Thanksgiving games and activities from online or download printables to do together.
  • Click here for a printable conversation starter game to play at family table or even virtually.

Happy Thanksgiving from Kids’ Turn San Diego!


Halloween can be fun AND safe! Get creative to celebrate the holiday while preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Halloween is just around the corner! As you’re putting up decorations and picking out Halloween candy, it’s important to plan how you and your family will celebrate the holiday safely. COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the US, and families will need to get creative to celebrate Halloween without putting themselves or others at risk.

While risk can’t be avoided completely, we can take steps to ensure we are minimizing risk as much as possible. Here are some ideas for fun and safe alternatives to trick-or-treating:

    • Hide Halloween candy or small treats around your home or backyard and send kids on a Halloween candy hunt!
    • Start a new family tradition of having a spooky Halloween dinner together. Have kids get involved in cooking or setting the table as appropriate.
    • Carve or decorate pumpkins with friends or neighbors at a safe distance outside, and show off your creative designs.
    • Get crafty with your kids and create fun and festive Halloween decorations for your home.
    • Host a virtual costume contest with other families or relatives so kids can show off their costumes!
    • Create a scavenger hunt for Halloween- or fall-themed items around your neighborhood. Walk around as a family and point out fun decorations or pretty fall leaves.

    • Queue up a Halloween movie night at home. Make it special with themed snacks and drinks, or build a comfy fort together with blankets and pillows.
Be sure to check your local health guidelines for more information on what activities are currently allowed in your area.

If you do decide to go trick-or-treating, it is important to avoid going door-to-door to multiple households, where it can be difficult to socially distance and the risk of exposure is higher. Instead, limit your area to a friend’s house or other small, familiar area to stay safer.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stress the importance of wearing protective masks whenever you are in the presence of others. When trick-or-treating, ensure that everyone in the family is wearing a cloth or surgical mask (not just a costume mask). Do not have children wear a costume mask over a cloth or surgical mask as this can make it hard for them to breathe.

After returning home from trick-or-treating, have the entire family wash hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds and lay out collected candy on a clean surface for a few hours to allow time for any virus on the candy to die.

From all of us at Kids’ Turn San Diego, we wish you a fun and safe Halloween!

Source: Kaiser Permanente

Valentine’s Day can be a difficult day for both children and parents going through divorce or experiencing a family separation.

Whether your family is living in two homes or separated due to a military transition, Valentine’s Day may be a source of stress and sadness. Children may be reminded that their parents are no longer together, or they may miss a deployed parent more than ever. Regardless of your family situation, this Valentine’s Day, make sure to spend some one-on-one time with the most important people in your life – your children!

Below are some helpful tips to show your children that they are – and will always be – your Valentine!

  • Go on a date! Go on a “date” with your child for Valentine’s Day! Dress up and go to a restaurant, go to the park and eat ice-cream, or stay in and watch a movie. Spend that one-on-one time with each of your children (without other children or your significant other, if you have one). If you have multiple children, enjoy a favorite game together or make popcorn and watch movies in your pajamas. If your child is not with you on the actual Valentine’s Day, plan your date for another time in February. Your children will love this special time! Remember, when enjoying your time with your children this Valentine’s Day, take the opportunity to explain that Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate all kinds of love and that THEY are loved by YOU!

  • Make valentines! Make valentines WITH your child! Encouraging your child to make valentines for people they love (including their other parent) will show them to be generous with their love. Help them create lists of everyone they want to send a Valentine’s wish and remember to include all their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and extended family members, regardless of how you may feel about these family members. If your children are writing names on Valentine’s Day cards for classmates, do it together! Ask your child about their classmates so they can tell you stories. Have them write the names on the cards and place stickers or other fun decorations. Or you can make special valentines from scratch for the special people in their lives! The key is to make the valentines WITH your children so that you lead by example and enjoy the activity with them!
  • Children love seeing their parents getting along and being happy together. So if hanging out together on Valentine’s Day is about family time, then spending time together may be a great way to role model healthy family relationships. However, unless you and your co-parent are getting back together; refrain from using the word “date” if you go out as a family. Using words like “let’s go on a date” may confuse your children and give false hope that their parents will be getting back together. If there is a lot of conflict, it may be best to enjoy the holiday separately by doing things with your children when they are with you.
  • For military families, if your spouse is deployed or away from the family for any reason, honor the parent-child relationship by helping your children make special Valentine’s Day cards for their other parent. When children learn to embrace military-related separations and to cherish their other parent during holidays, they learn that separation is temporary and that love lasts forever.
Whether you and your children are experiencing a family separation, divorce, or military-related separation this Valentine’s Day, make sure that your children know that YOU love them and that THEY will always be your Valentine.

Give the Gift of Happy Holidays to Your Kids

Holidays are filled with excitement, love, and hope! But the holidays can also be a stressful period, especially for children and families experiencing separation or divorce. Moving between homes, sharing the holiday with one parent while missing the other, or feeling forced to choose between their parents are all legitimate and stressful thoughts that children of divorced families may experience. Have the happiest holidays with these tips, through the eyes of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Did you know that Kids' Turn San Diego received their very first grant from The Dr. Seuss Foundation to help children experiencing family separation?


Don’t let the Grinch steal your child’s happiness! Keep the holidays festive and bright with these tips:

  1. Deck the halls and the walls!

Spend a day or evening decorating the house to reflect the holiday spirit! This will bring the warmth of the holiday into your home and allow your children to express their creativity and have ownership of their space. In Who-ville, the Whos decorate with joy, kindness and love in their heart. At Kids’ Turn San Diego, we wish the same for every child and family! No matter where your children will be this holiday season, remember to be positive, loving and kind at all times. It is very important to keep any negative feelings about your child’s other parent away from your child. Your children deserve to be loved and happy without the pressure of guilt. Even subtle comments like “I will really miss you this holiday week” or “I wish you were waking up at my house on Christmas morning” could result in your child wanting to take care of you and your feelings. When this happens, children feel guilty about enjoying time with their other parent. Be the parent with a heart that grows three sizes! Stay positive, loving and kind throughout the entire holiday season.

  1. Without spending a dime, the best gift is time!  

Children in our programs tell us they wish their parents would put down their cell phones and spend time with them. Spending uninterrupted time with your children shows them that they are important to you. Put down your phone so your kids do not feel alone.

When thinking about holiday gifts, look through the eyes of child and be creative. There are so many amazing activities to do together inside and outside your home. Bake cookies, watch holiday movies or create decorations out of things around the house like newspaper, tinfoil or popcorn. Check out these 25 FREE holiday experiences or search Facebook Events for activities you and your children can enjoy together.

Your children deserve stress-free holidays — and so do YOU! Grab coffee with a friend, go to a museum or take a walk on the beach. If your children are not with you this holiday season, honor them by taking care of yourself while they are with their other parent. This will lead to happier holidays for your entire family!

  1. Taking care of your own heart is a big part!

Open your heart this holiday season and forgive yourself. Marriage is a life transition and for some, so is divorce. Over 50% of the population experiences it. It doesn’t make you a bad person or a failure.

This holiday season, be kind to yourself. Take time to sit and drink a hot beverage, read a book, hug someone, or close your eyes and relax.

The holidays are a great time for the entire family to remember the warmth of family, love, and happiness! It is a time to create beautiful memories to remember. As the Grinch so lovingly did, take a moment and let your heart grow three sizes this year. When a parent’s heart is full of love, children will feel happier and freer to enjoy every moment!

To keep the holidays festive and bright, allow yourself to be the light!
Happy Holidays from Kids' Turn San Diego!