The holidays after divorce can be difficult, especially for the children. While the loss of the family unit has affected everyone involved, you still have to manage the demands of the season, from shopping for gifts to attending festive gatherings with friends, family, and coworkers. Despite the difficulties of having the holiday spirit, it is still possible to make the season enjoying for your kids and yourself.
The following are several tips to survive the holidays after divorce:
- Plan ahead – To avoid any misunderstandings and communication issues with your ex-spouse, both of you should create a holiday schedule in advance. While it may seem difficult, the truth is that you and your former spouse will always be parents to your children, so it is best to start learning how to co-parent effectively. If a conflict does arise between you two, make sure you keep it away from the kids.
- Be flexible – If you ex-spouse has the kids for Christmas, perhaps you can have them for New Year’s Day this year and Christmas next year. You can also be open to celebrating each holiday on a different day, perhaps your children will appreciate having two Christmas celebrations (i.e. more gifts for them).
- Create new traditions – If you celebrated the holidays in a certain way when the family unit was intact, attempting to replicate these past traditions can trigger negative emotions which can put a damper to the celebrations. Instead, create brand new and exciting traditions with help from your children.
- Acknowledge your children’s feelings – No matter how hard you try to make the holidays merry, your kids may still feel sad about the divorce. Rather than trying to make them feel better, allow them to be sad and give them an opportunity to express their feelings, thus validating their emotions.
- Rely on your support system – Whenever you are feeling lonely or depressed, friends and family are a good distraction from dwelling in the past. Surround yourself with people who love you and can help lift your spirits during this tough time. If your ex-spouse has the kids for the weekend, try not to spend your free time alone and reach out to your loved ones.
- Take care of yourself – Since drinking heavily and overeating can result in more issues down the road, take this opportunity to improve your physical and mental well-being. Get plenty of rest, eat a healthy diet, exercise a few times during the week, and indulge yourself in things you enjoy doing, whether it’s painting, reading a book, or even shopping for yourself.
- Count your blessings – This could be a chance to make a deeper connection with yourself and your children, find new meaning, and enjoy the things you may have missed if the divorce had not occurred. If you and your kids survive the holidays in one piece, all of you may come out stronger in the end. This could be the start of an amazing new chapter in your life.