The holiday season is difficult for many people, but for those who are going through a divorce can find it excruciating. If you don’t have children you may be feeling a little lost. After all, holidays are for families to come together, not be apart. If you do have children you may be trying to decide how to divide their time between your home and your ex’s so that they can spend the holidays with both of you.
While you may feel that your situation is not ideal, adjusting to life without your spouse is just a part of living with divorce. Often things will even out and become easier as you grow accustomed to your new normal. However, when the change is still fresh, you may find this advice helpful in managing the holidays while going through a divorce.
Don’t put the children in the middle of your adult issues – stay flexible.
You and your ex are getting a divorce, your children are not. Divorce is often particularly hard on children and divorce during the holidays is even harder. Planning and flexibility are key to making things as easy for them as possible. If you live near you ex you can let the children spend Christmas Eve with one of you, then Christmas Day with the other. If you are not close, you might want to alternate Thanksgiving and Christmas each year. If both parents are friends or are comfortable being around each other they may even opt to have Christmas together with the children.
Give your children a voice in part of the planning.
Don’t wait until the last minute to make plans for holiday visitation. Sometimes your divorce attorney can include provisions for holiday visitation in the divorce agreement. Whether you have done this or not, it is wise to start the conversation with your children early, at least a month before Thanksgiving. Include them in the planning as much as possible. Make sure they know the holiday schedule well ahead of time so they can prepare. Most importantly, don’t make them feel guilty for visiting their other parent. Engage in conversations with them, planning and anticipating. Let them be excited about spending time with that parent regardless of how you may feel about him or her.
Create new traditions.
As you approach the holidays you may realize that some of your holiday traditions no longer work. Don’t let it get to you; move forward by making new traditions. If you once spent Christmas Even with your ex’s family and now suddenly find yourself at home alone, find another way to fill that space. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or invite a special group of friends over for dinner. As you move forward in your new life there will be changes, but they don’t all have to be negative. Now is the time to begin making new memories and new traditions.
Make plans with other single people.
If you don’t have children or if your children are visiting their other parent, you may not relish the thought of sitting home alone while it seems everyone else is out having fun. Grab a few of your single friends and plan to do something together. If you don’t have any single friends, there are many single parent support groups that are very good. A local counseling center or even your divorce attorney may be able to help you find one in your area so you can connect with others who are going through the same things you are. It can be very healing.
Give yourself permission to “take a moment” and be sad – but don’t stay there.
Chances are, you will most likely be a little sad; that is a given. Self-care during a divorce is so important yet many gloss right over it and surrender to the depression and loneliness. Don’t feel guilty about it and don’t try to power through it or deny yourself that time to feel it. Go ahead, give yourself permission to be a little sad, but don’t stay there. Allow yourself some time to be sad, 10 minutes or a half hour, then move on and find something else to do. If you stay and ruminate on being sad or lonely you will do nothing but open yourself up or depression and despair. Fight against those feelings and do something productive. You have the power to make your holiday season good, even wonderful.
If you need a San Diego divorce lawyer to help you lay the groundwork for holiday visitation, we can help. We are a family law firm devoted to helping families navigate the often difficult waters of divorce. Call us to get in touch with a divorce lawyer in San Diego and we will help you through the divorce process. You don’t have to do this alone.