Divorce typically means a whole new way of celebrating the holidays with family. On top of the logistical changes, there are lingering feelings of grief, anger, regret, anxiety and other emotions that can make it hard to want to celebrate whether you are an adult or a child. No matter how difficult, it is important to find ways to make the holidays as enjoyable as possible for your own and your children’s sake. These tips can help you do that:
- Cooperate with your ex-spouse. Now is not the time to argue with your ex-spouse. Resolve how you will spend the holidays, discuss gift-giving and any other issues that may cause stress long before the holidays. Remember that your kids come first so compromise and work together for their benefit.
- Seek support from extended family members. Share your holiday plans with them and ask them to support your decisions. It’s important for everyone to be on the same page and not add to the stress children may already be feeling.
- Include family and friends in your extended celebrations. Being surrounded by the people who care about you and your children will benefit all of you. This doesn’t have to be confined to a one-day party. Think of other fun activities you can do together in the days before and after the holidays.
- Find quiet one-on-one time together with your children. Sometimes all the activity and people can be overwhelming. Spend time watching a favorite movie, playing a game, listening to music, reading a book, doing a craft project or other activity with your children.
- Do something for someone else. Giving to others feels good and reminds us that there are many who are less fortunate. During the holidays there are lots of opportunities from donating toys to kids in need, writing letters to soldiers overseas, volunteering with charities and other options.
- Create new traditions. You can’t have your special holiday breakfast anymore, but maybe there is something else that you can do. In the beginning, everyone will grieve for the loss of the way things use to be, but life goes on and eventually those new traditions will take hold.
- Put things in perspective. Your life and your children’s may not be what you expected, but there are also many good things in your lives. Count your blessings and write down what you are grateful for in your life. If you feel positive, your children will feel that as well.
Unfortunately, the more contentious your divorce was, the harder it is to move forward and see the positives. Those harsh feelings linger long after the divorce affecting everything in your life until you can let it go.
I encourage clients to consider the collaborative divorce process which allows spouses to find a solution that works for them and their children with the assistance of financial, legal and mental health advisors. When parents cooperate, they not only resolve their divorce, but they create a means for addressing family issues – like how to spend the holidays – in a respectful and cooperative way.
If you are thinking about divorce, contact me to discuss your options.