The holidays can be a difficult time if you’re going through a divorce, especially if this is the first year you’re separated. As I mentioned around Thanksgiving, this could be your first Thanksgiving without your child(ren) or could be the first time not spending it with your in-laws and family and friends may ask prying questions you just don’t want to answer. While s not spending it with your in-laws might be a good thing, change during this time of year can be tough. There are always lots of parties, school events and expected family time. Whether this is your first year separated or you’ve been separated for a while, here are some things to keep in mind to make everything a bit easier and enjoy the holiday season.
Keep things consistent, but also create new traditions
If you have kids, it’s important to remember to try and keep things as consistent as possible for them. This may mean that you and your ex try and spend the holidays together and show the kids that you’re still able to get along for their sake. If you’re not able to do that, it’s ok, but try and work at keeping some of the same traditions that you’ve done previously and also create new traditions. If you don’t have the kids on the day, you normally celebrate the holiday know that it’s ok to celebrate another day and still enjoy the holiday. While it’s helpful for the kids to have consistency, it’s also fun to make new traditions that they can enjoy with each parent going forward.
Spend the holiday with those that you care about
Having a strong support system is important no matter what time of year, but getting through the holidays, especially if it’s the first year, can be easier if you spend time with those that you care about. Whether it’s family or friends, they can help you focus on the present and not get upset or depressed thinking about past holidays.
Take time for yourself
Around the holidays there is always a lot going on. I know that I’ve had almost every evening filled with one holiday event or another and sometimes I’ve just had to say no because it’s too much. While spending time with friends and family can be comforting it can also cause undue stress on yourself. It’s important to make sure to take time for yourself and enjoy it. Treat yourself to something you have been wanting or go on a trip somewhere. Instead of being upset that your child(ren) aren’t with you take that time to be nice to yourself and enjoy something just for you.
Don’t share more than you want
During the holidays, you’re likely to see many friends and family that may ask prying questions about your ex, the divorce and what’s going on. Do not feel that you have to share this information with them if you don’t feel comfortable. It’s perfectly acceptable just to tell them that you don’t want to talk about that right now and change the subject to something else. Let them know that you appreciate that they care, but you’d rather talk about other things in your life. Expressing your feelings without blame is the healthiest option and allows both of you to move on.
Help others and give back
When you’re going through a stressful time such as a divorce, it can help to give back to others who are having a difficult time as well. Volunteering can help you feel more socially connected and ward off loneliness and depression. Giving back to your community can also help remind you of all that you do have and give you a brighter outlook during this difficult time. Find non-profits in your area that need volunteers or donations at this time. If your children are old enough, it can be a great experience for them to volunteer as well.