Here they come: the holidays! If they’re so joyful, then why do you dread them so much? How will you ever survive – let alone enjoy – the season?
I admit it: for the first few years after my divorce, I lost my holiday spirit. Holidays and divorce just don’t mix well, especially when:
- Your family lives far away and you feel alone.
- Your family is coming to visit and you feel alone.
- One of your children has chosen to spend the holiday with only one parent – and it’s not you.
- Your new “modern family” doesn’t feel like family yet, and you miss your traditional one.
- The gang is here, but there’s no way you can pretend to be that happy family.
- It’s your first holiday season as a divorced or divorcing couple.
- It’s your last holiday season as a traditional family, but you’re the only one who knows it.
You may feel like you’re the only one struggling with these problems, but I assure you you’re not alone – even if it feels like it.
- You will survive.
- Your kids are counting on you to pull through.
- Kids love the holidays, so divorce or no, the holidays will go on.
- Once you gain some momentum, things will come together, the tree will get decorated, the cookies will get baked, and the gifts purchased and wrapped.
- The holiday season isn’t going to disappear, so we need to deal with it.
In the spirit of the season, I offer 10 suggestions to help you manage the holidays while you’re coping with divorce.
- Meeting the holidays head on will make you feel better than ignoring them. A “can-do” mindset is more uplifting, at the end of the day, than one of defeat.
- Choose a motivational factor, something that boosts your energy. For me, it’s my kids and how much they look forward to the holidays. Who/what could be your motivation?
- Make a to-do list, make it reasonable, and set dates on which you’re committed to crossing off each item.
- Tackle one item on the list. Get the ball rolling.
- Observe the people around you. How are they responding to your efforts? Appreciation and support often come from unexpected places.
- Do something nice for yourself. You’re doing your best, and you deserve a treat. How about a massage, or a new pair of shoes? Or just a cup of hot cocoa?
- Invite a good friend to coffee, lunch, or dinner. Keep your conversation positive.
- Take a few moments each day to notice the beauty of the season: the first snowfall, the lovely festive decorations, the tacky over-the-top decorations. What did you see today?
- Resolve to stay on good footing with your co-parent. It’s easy to fall into a spiral of anger this time of year. Don’t do it.
- Establish a go-to person whom you can call for encouragement when you feel stuck. Not someone to whine to, but someone who will give you that gentle push to help keep you on your game.
These are strategies I use myself, even to this day. It gets better every year.
I know: divorce is hard under any circumstances, but the holidays make it even more challenging. Take things minute by minute. One step at a time. Remember that song from the movie “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”: “Put one foot in front of the other…”
Want more strategies for blending the holidays with divorce? Give me a call and/or take a look at my previous Holiday posts: