Surviving a recent divorce isn’t easy at any time of year – but during the winter holidays, it can seem impossible. Your children may be struggling to readjust after your divorce and navigating custody and visitation arrangements during the holidays can make it even harder.
Here’s how to save your happy holidays, support your kids, and keep yourself together during a tough time.
Keep cherished traditions
It can be hard to picture your family carrying out its annual Christmas tree-trimming or nightly menorah-lighting traditions when you’re in the midst of a split. But skipping all your former holiday traditions isn’t just unnecessary – it can be actively harmful. Children in particular need the comfort of knowing that even though their parents are separating, the life they know and love will still go on.
Even if you need to scale back your holiday festivities this year due to time, budget, or emotional constraints, keep the traditions that matter most to you and your children. You’ll give yourself a moment of calm in an otherwise stressful time.
Consider starting a new tradition
Although it’s important to keep the parts of the holidays you love most, a change in your family’s make-up is also a good time to try incorporating new traditions. If your children are going to be with their other parent for a holiday event, you might begin a tradition of sending along one present from you for them to open. If you’ve always cooked together as a family for a special night, perhaps you can move the event to a more convenient time or combine with a friend’s family for extra fun.
Don’t try to go it alone
If your ex has left the house and has the kids for the holiday, don’t try to spend the day alone. Instead, make plans to spend time with family members you like or close friends who love and support you. Surround yourself with people who will help you enjoy the season, rather than dwelling alone on the differences between this year and last.
Choose friends and family members who will help get you engaged in celebrating and keep your spirits up. If you don’t have anyone locally who meets this description, consider finding a volunteer activity or event to help with over the holidays. You can make your season brighter by brightening someone else’s holidays as well.
Feel your feelings – and let your children feel theirs
It’s okay to mourn what you’ve left behind. It’s also okay – and healthy – for your children to express their feelings as well. When you make a “safe space” for your kids to express their feelings and give yourself permission to feel sad, angry, or lonely, you speed the healing process and move yourself and your family closer to having a different, but equally happy, holiday season.
Are you considering divorce or separation? Make sure you have an experienced lawyer on your side to protect your interests and help you navigate the process in the best way for yourself and your children