The holiday season can be filled with extra pressures as we seek to meet others' expectations. We want to provide the perfect family dinner, decorations and of course the perfect gift. We long to create that nostalgia that exists as we remember holiday celebrations from our own past.
Often we fall short in all these endeavors. When viewing the holidays through the lens of a pending or completed divorce, these challenges can quickly shut you down. It doesn't have to be that way. Here are some tips for divorced parents to not only survive, but also enjoy the holiday season.
Make a Plan
This step is huge. It is so important and empowering to take control of your own destiny. By making a plan you are better prepared to face challenges and overcome fears.
For instance, you know that the children will be coming and going throughout the holiday season. Do not find yourself unexpectedly alone. Take advantage of the time and use it in a positive way: for shopping, visiting with friends or family, or participating in other activities. Decide what you want to do and then do it.
Take Time for Yourself
It is easy to be so focused on other people that you forget to care for one of the most important persons: you! Treat your self to something special, a bubble bath, a delicious meal, a good book or just something fun. Taking care of yourself enables you to better care for others.
Create New Traditions
You and your children will experience a sense of loss as you realize that certain family activities and traditions must change due to a divorce. It is important for children to feel that creating new traditions is okay. The children take many cues from you, so be upbeat as you address these subjects.
In our home, my stepson would spend Christmas Eve with his dad and his extended family. This was hard for my wife and me because Christmas Eve had been such a special time for us, too. But our son spent every Christmas morning in our home. We learned that this continuity and tradition were very comforting for our son.
Remember You Are Not Alone
It also helps to realize that, particularly today, divorced parents are not alone. It can be so hard to take a risk and share our struggles with someone else. The reality is that many people have also experienced divorce, either directly or through a close family member, and can relate. You can get valuable counsel and support from many different people. Acknowledging your situation does not make you less, but enables you to seek out people who can help you.