This time of year is always rough after a divorce. After all, the calendar flipping from September to October means the holidays are almost upon us. This is when families are supposed to come together, and you force a smile as you see other families taking advantage of the extra time together. Yet your family dynamic feels broken and splitting off into different directions. Naturally, you feel lonely and sad. You are trying to hold it all together, but you are only human.
We are not going to pretend that surviving the holidays after a divorce is not rough, especially since this season lasts so long when you factor in Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, and New Year’s. In fact, we wrote a blog post around this time last year with 7 tips that can help make that journey a little easier.
Below is an expanded list — because you can never have too many practical ideas.
Focus on the kids
This is usually the first thing on every list we have ever created in our weekly blog posts — and for good reason. Kids always come first. As difficult as it may be to get into the holiday spirit, you must remember as a parent that your children need as much normalcy as possible — especially during the holidays. So make them your focus. If you focus on what your kids need and less on what you want, you will find the holidays much easier to navigate. Ensure they feel loved and are happy, maintain as many family traditions as possible, and do not be opposed to including your former spouse in a few of your plans. The kids should never have to choose between parents during the holidays.
Establish new traditions
It may be difficult to let go of those long-time family traditions, but perhaps now is the time to create a few new ones. Maybe it is as simple as reading The Night Before Christmas to your kids on Christmas Eve or playing “I spy” with the ornaments on your tree. If you are used to watching the same holiday movie every year, pick out a new one. These are just a few new traditions to start this year. If you would like to hear a few more, read this blog post by parents.com.
Refuse to guilt-trip yourself
Stop giving yourself a guilt trip for all the things that went wrong in your marriage and how they affect your holiday season. Embrace the fact that things are different, give your kids something to be excited about — even if things are not the same as they used to be. If you do, you will be surprised by how quickly everyone will adapt.
We all need a little more gratitude in our life, especially after a divorce. Instead of focusing on all the bad things that have happened to you, look around for what is still going good and what you can be grateful for (friends, family, your children, your job, the roof over your head right now, etc.) Having more gratitude in your life is your choice. You can focus on what is missing, or you can focus on what you have gained or can gain from this difficult experience.
Buy yourself something nice
When was the last time you splurged on something nice for yourself? There is no rule that says you cannot buy yourself something nice. Maybe it is a new Halloween costume to wear out with the kids for trick-or-treating, or it is a set of diamond earrings for Christmas. You can even wrap it up and stick it under the tree with a note that says, “From me to me.”
Cut yourself some slack
Maybe this is the holiday season that does not quite stack up with the rest, and that is okay. Make the best of it and give yourself some slack if the Christmas tree does not go up the day after Thanksgiving or you are not capable of stringing lights along the top of your two-story house. Make peace with the season and the way you feel.
Surround yourself with family and friends
Your marriage may be over, but that does not mean treasured relationships with family and friends must end, too. No one should be alone during the holidays, so do not be afraid to lean on others for support. Maybe it is your parents, the friend from high school who has been by your side after all these years, or a close co-worker. They need to know you need their love and grace now more than ever. You would be surprised how the simple act of spending time with people who truly have your back can help you survive your recent divorce during the holidays.
Have a co-parenting plan and be flexible
Your co-parenting plan should include who gets the kids during certain holidays, which should head off any potential arguments and reduce stress. But do not be afraid to make new arrangements or go off-script. For example, maybe what your former spouse is suggesting is not such a bad idea and will make things easier for everyone. Take a deep breath and consider agreeing to it, or at least meet them halfway.
Do more for others
The holidays are a time of selflessness and giving. This year focus on doing something for someone else who is less fortunate than you. There are several worthy causes to get involved with, and now is the time of year when they need more volunteers. An example is Mission Moms, which serves its community through everything from mobile meals to backpack drives, and more. The point is this: refill your cup by doing more for others during the holidays.
The more organized you are, and the more you can plan ahead — even for little things that will make a big difference later — the easier it will be to navigate these uncharted waters and have a somewhat decent holiday season. Things may not look exactly how you are used to them looking, but at least you will have a plan.
Look forward to New Year’s
Trying to survive the holidays after a divorce is not easy, but having a chance to start anew after the New Year is definitely something to look forward to. This is your chance to try new activities, focus on yourself, set and accomplish goals that you were not previously able to do, etc. But do not wait for the New Year to start coming up with ideas. Spend the holidays creating a list of things you would like to do for yourself, the kids, and others as you move forward into 2022.
Call Nelson Law Group today!!
If divorce is the answer, you need a trusted advisor to guide you through each stage of your divorce and help you deal with the fears that naturally come with that. The Nelson Law Group brings nearly two decades of experience in family law to each and every case. We work diligently to achieve a result that ensures you receive what you are entitled to as you move forward onto the next stage of your life.
Give our knowledgeable staff here at Nelson Law Group, PC, a call if you have any further questions regarding this or any other issue. Our staff is always available. Give us a call today! For more information about Brett A Nelson, click here.