“Home for the Holidays” is a popular sentiment; but what happens when your home is split in two because of divorce?
As challenging as the everyday changes a family faces in divorce are, nothing is harder than those first few holidays. There may be gatherings, events, dinners, or even Christmas mornings that are not the same, because the parents are now living separately.
I know many divorced parents, myself included, who tried to keep the usual activities with both parents present the first year or so, but in the long run, you have to start going your own ways.
When young children are involved, it’s important to be clear about the fact your marriage is over to avoid confusing them about the status of your relationship. It’s also important to be clear to your extended family members who may feel loyalty and a sense of obligation to your ex-spouse that the holidays may not include them anymore.
All of this does not mean you and your children can’t or won’t ever have a happy holiday season filled with many blessings. As in any transition, there is a period of adjustment that requires a little getting used to before it starts to flow.
Here are some tips to help.
Make New Traditions
You don’t have to keep doing the same things you did while you were married. Think of something you and your children can do together you all enjoy and make it your NEW tradition every year.
My daughter spends every other Christmas Eve with me since I was divorced, and it’s usually just the two of us. So, our first year we went out to dinner at a local Thai restaurant with twinkly lights and pretty tea cups. We decided we would make this our tradition. Yes, it’s different from what everyone else is doing, but that’s what makes it special and fun.
It’s OK not to be OK
There are 365 days a year and a holiday is just one of them. Remind yourself it’s just one day, and you can get through it. Don’t expect everything to be perfect, and if you are feeling blue– that’s OK! The worst thing you can do is pretend you are fine and keep everything inside.
Find someone who understands, and ask for support. There are plenty of people out there who have been right where you are at some point in their life. They will not judge you for your lack of holiday spirit or try to force you to be jolly when you just can’t right now. Dealing with the pain helps process it so you can move through to the other side and experience joy again.
Adjust Your Spending
Your family situation is different and that may mean you have less money to spend. Communicate with your children to let them know they may not get every present they want. (This is actually a good thing!)
That goes for other gift buying or entertaining as well. Let people know you care with a card or something homemade if you cannot afford to give the kind of gifts you did in the past. If hosting a dinner or a party, ask everyone to bring a dish or their favorite drink.
Don’t overspend just because it’s something you think others expect. The holidays are about people you love – not the gifts you buy.
Let Go of Guilt
No matter what circumstances led to your divorce, there are usually feelings of guilt on both sides. If you have children, the guilt you may feel is related to how it’s affecting them. And, the holidays seem to bring that to the surface more than any other time. Remember- loving yourself is the example you want to set for them. Guilty feelings are normal, but wallowing in them doesn’t help your children.
We’re all energetic beings, and the last thing you want is for them to pick up on your energy and start feeling guilty themselves. This is easier said than done, but at least being aware of your emotions and how they are affecting the people around you is a good start to letting go of the guilt and having a healthy emotional state through the holidays and beyond.
Make Time for You
Remember this is your holiday as well as your families’. You deserve to spend time doing something you enjoy or to treat yourself to something nice. We spend a lot of time doing for others during this season, and it can get pretty hectic.
Take time to enjoy something for yourself too. It could be as simple as lunch with friend, a massage, going to see a show, or treating yourself to a fabulous dessert. Don’t wait until it’s all over to slow down and take time for you.
No matter what’s going on in your life, there is always something to be grateful for and always a way to find some fun, relaxation, and maybe even a little chocolate.
Cheers to a happy holiday season, new traditions, healing old hurts, self-care, and moving through to a brand new year with bigger and better things to come!
Maureen Keyte is a Certified Personal Coach and Professional Writer with a passion for helping others through life transitions in order to become the best versions of themselves. Her writing has been published in several regional and national print and online publications. She is also a grant and marketing writer for non-profit agencies and businesses that focus on empowering women and young girls. Contact – Website – Facebook – LinkedIn – Pinterest – Twitter
Photo Credit – mrpuen