Change can be hard. Depending on your arrangement, you may or may not have your kids for Thanksgiving or Christmas. No matter your situation, here are some tips on not only surviving the holiday season, but for thriving.
- Create New Traditions Look at this as a great opportunity to do things your way. Were there things you did during the holidays that didn’t bring you joy? Think about the traditions you had and want to keep. Think about traditions you loved that got dropped during your marriage. Find new traditions by talking to friends and searching online. I love being active and playing football (or some kind of sport) on Thanksgiving. My ex liked to sit on the couch so we never did those things. My boys loved spending our first Thanksgiving with my family and doing fun things like playing football and Twister.
- Practice Self Care Remember to go easy on yourself. The holidays are hectic. They can be stressful and busy for some and lonely and awkward for others. No matter where you are on that spectrum, remember to not isolate yourself. As human beings, we crave connections. We want to be around people who understand us and “get” us. So, whether that’s your family or your friends, make sure to spend time with them. That first season, I cut back on my social schedule. I spent more time with close friends and family where it felt like a warm blanket on a cold night and made sure I did things that brought me comfort.
- Make a Budget Too often, we try to recreate the gift giving we were able to do when there were two incomes. Accept that there is just one income. Remember when you were a kid? What do you remember most? The feeling of family or the gifts you received? My favorite holiday memories are when we went to my great grandparents house at the lake. Those times with all of my cousins, eating, playing games, having fun and watching football are some of my favorite. Trying to stretch your finances thin will just increase your stress.
- Answer Questions Factually If your children are small, they may not understand why their other parent isn’t there. Even older children may not truly understand that a divorce means you aren’t getting back together and what that first year truly looks like. Understand that they will be upset. It isn’t that they don’t want to be with you, it’s just that they miss their other parent too. Tell them that you understand their feelings and it’s okay that they miss them and that it’s normal. You can also explain (if this is the case) that they’ll get two Christmases – one with mom and one with dad.
- Help Others Helping others and seeing other people in different and sometimes worse circumstances can help give you perspective. Remember that to give is to receive. When you focus on making someone else’s day brighter, making someone else’s smile bigger, it takes the focus away from your pain and discomfort. It also gives your problems perspective.
- Be Patient Understand that the first year will be hard, not only on you, but also your children as you all adjust to a new normal. You may not get everything right all of the time. It’s okay because we’re all human and we all make mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up over them. Learn from them and move on. This is my biggest hurdle. When there is a problem or something that hurts my children, I want to fix it.
We are a product of our environment and what we choose to focus on. When we focus on positive images and joyfulness, we can internalize that and spread joy. If we focus on what we don’t have and negative images, that is what we will spread. May your holidays be merry and bright!