Getting Through The Holidays After Divorce

Going through a divorce can already seem stressful, but preparing for the holidays may seem like the last thing you want to do. But this can actually a good thing! They provide a great distraction for you to focus on rather than thinking about the recent separation. Here are some tips to help you not only get through the holidays, but enjoy them while taking a break from stressful thoughts.

How to Survive the Holidays After Divorce:

The holidays can seem anything but merry after going through a divorce. But they don’t have to be when focusing on a few simple tips. The key is to stay positive and distract yourself from negative thoughts, like enjoying time spent with family and/or friends. Here is what you can do:

1. Plan Ahead

Planning ahead will surely save both time and stress before and during the holidays. If you have kids, coordinate with your ex-spouse as to who will have them for the holidays, and if they are older, ask them for their opinion. But despite your current feelings towards your ex, try to be fair during the decision-making process as it will be easier for both of you.

Spending the Holidays Without the Kids

Remember that although you may not have Christmas Day to celebrate with your kids, you can still negotiate for Christmas Eve, and then switch the next year. When doing this, you will see that communication and flexibility are most important to avoid as much stress as possible.
Spending the holidays without your kids can be hard, especially when experiencing it for the first time. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy them. Take the opportunity to meet up with an old friend, spend the day with your family, or simply relax at home with a glass of wine (only do this if you think it will help).
If you find yourself still missing them, it’s ok to give them a call. If they are old enough, consider sending a text, e-mail, tweet, or send any other type of message to get in contact with them. Otherwise, a simple phone call will do.

If You Don’t Have Kids

If you don’t have kids, reach out to friends and family to see what they are doing for the holidays. Even if they are intimidated by your situation or don’t agree with your decision, don’t hesitate to break the ice; you can agree to disagree and still enjoy eachother’s company. This way you won’t be forced to be alone and think about the past.

2. Have Patience

While the holidays are fun, they are also hectic! If you think about it, there’s so much to plan! Holiday cooking, baking, gifts, decorations, coordinating with family, friends, and ex-spouse…the list goes on. All of these tasks, in addition to dealing with a hoard of emotions can be overwhelming.
But when being patient with yourself and taking each task one step at a time, you will find that it’s not only possible to survive the holidays, but actually enjoy them. All of your hard work will pay off as soon as the big day arrives and you can enjoy this time being with friends and family.

3. Focus on Others

While the emotional stress can take a toll, those who are less fortunate may not even have a table to use for dinner. You can take this as an opportunity to focus on how you can help them – even when you feel like you are the one who needs helping. But doing this may help to realize that the holidays are not only survivable, but enjoyable.
In the worst case scenario that your family chooses not to include you in their holiday plans, consider volunteering at a soup kitchen or other non-profit organization to help less fortunate families, and even homeless pets! You may think it could be crazy at first, but when forgetting about troubles and appreciating what you do have, you can develop a whole new perspective.

4. It’s Not About the Presents

All too often people stress about getting gifts: what to get for who and saving enough to pay for them. But a divorce can put anyone into long-term financial turmoil that can be depressing – especially around the holiday. But that’s not the point. What’s most important is the time spent with others, giving the gift of presence, not presents.

5. Don’t Feel Guilty

Many people look at divorces as a failure in life, especially when kids are involved. But this is a wasted stress, especially if both of you knew that there was nothing that could be done to save the marriage. As long as the holidays are spent having a great time with your kids, friends, and other family, you or the kids may not even be phased by the new situation. Some kids even see this as having two celebrations, something they see as more of a positive than negative.

6. Buy Yourself a Gift

If you and your ex had a tradition of buying eachother gifts while you were married, it can be saddening to know that it’s now a thing a of the past. But instead, buy yourself a gift – something that you really want. This way, you know you will enjoy it and still be aware of the cost so it won’t put a hole in your wallet.

6. One Holiday at a Time

Especially after just finalizing a divorce, the last thing you want to think about is celebrating the holidays. But they aren’t going away anytime soon, so the best way to handle them is to treat them as any other overwhelming task: by baby steps.
Instead of looking at the holidays within the next 6 months, break it down and focus on the holiday coming up next. What are the steps you can take to be prepared both mentally and physically to ensure that you will enjoy the next celebration? By taking this approach, you can spend your time preparing instead of worrying about what you will do when the time comes.

7. Create New Traditions

After a divorce, it won’t take long to notice that there were traditions that will no longer happen because they were between you and your ex-spouse. But taking the time to create new holiday traditions, whether they are with your friends, family, or kids, can actually replace the old ones.
Or if you had the tradition of traveling and spending Christmas in a hotel instead of at home, there’s no rule saying that you can’t do it again. Instead of taking the spouse, take your kids, friends, or even the dog (you can check online to see which hotels allow them). Who knows? Maybe you might have more fun with them than the previous years of going with your ex!

Speak with Your Attorney

Hopefully you will feel a little better about the approaching holidays, thinking about what you can do to make it a positive experience without your ex. But the best way to approach the 2 stressful situations of the holidays and your divorce is to refer to them as positives, and that the holidays can be used as a “fresh start” to a new life. So they can be spent making new memories and focusing on what you have now, rather than what was lost.

If you are worried about the legal or financial details, don’t hesitate to reach out to an experienced family attorney. While they may not be able to help with the Christmas shopping, they can relieve some stress by working out the legal details to ensure that the results of the divorce work in your favor.

When searching for a divorce attorney, check out Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. Their attorneys are not only experienced and professional, but will work with you to establish a solution that works in your best interest. Whether you are focusing on having the kids the majority of the time or spending specific holidays with them, these attorneys will voice your rights while working to establish the best solution for you. They might even be able to provide some advice based on your current situation to help you get through – and even enjoy – the holidays.

Kelly Peterson
About the Author

Experienced Divorce Lawyer Kelly Peterson handles child custody, visitation, paternity, grandparent rights and mediation cases.

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*Child Welfare Law Specialist Nat’l Assoc. of Counsel for Children