How a Recently Divorced Family Can Enjoy the Spirit of the Holidays
For a recently divorced family, it can seem particularly hard to partake in the spirit of the holidays, and instead, the holiday season can stir up emotions of anxiety, stress and fear.
FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN CONTROLWhatever your parenting plan, you have control over making your own holiday time with your kids memorable and meaningful. Schedule your holiday plans around your parenting agreement, particularly when there is the potential for conflict. Sticking to the schedule as it is provides consistency for the children so they learn what to expect every year, and decreases the chance for conflict during the holidays. Choose to focus on enjoying the time you have with your children instead of brooding on the times you will not be with them.
BE FLEXIBLEHoliday dates are much more important to adults than children. Remember, don't get too caught up in the trap that the "actual day" must be celebrated. Enjoying a delicious turkey dinner with your loved ones is enjoyable any day of the week. Opening presents on December 24th or even December 30th is just as exciting as December 25th for kids of all ages. Your children will mirror your feelings and actions, if you are excited about Thanksgiving dinner on a Friday, there is a high likelihood your kids will share in that same excitement.
CREATE NEW FAMILY TRADITIONSSometimes engaging in your old family traditions can trigger feelings of loss. Instead, get creative and try something completely new, or blend in some old traditions with some new. Perhaps hosting a "friendsgiving" to ensure you are surrounded by people you love, or serving meals to the homeless, or heading to the movies after dinner, or staying in your pajamas all day can create some new family memories and laughs.
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELFAll of those things your parents told you to do? Now is the time to take their advice. This includes sleep, exercise, and eating right. If part of your holiday involves the children being with their other parent, then use the time your children are away from you to recharge, get caught up on tasks you have been putting off, reconnect with friends, etc. If you know you might be sad spending your first Thanksgiving without your children, make plans for yourself! Plan to check items off your bucket list, or spend time with your family, invite some friends over. Whatever you do, plan to be busy doing activities you will look forward to doing.