To survive your first holiday season after getting divorced, be patient with yourself and others, seek support, and create new traditions. The holidays will be hard this year, but they don’t have to be terrible.
First, Take Care of Your Basic Needs
You can’t do anything if you don’t take care of yourself first. Make sure to eat, sleep, drink water, and breathe – remember that you need to do all these things to (literally) survive!
Exercising, getting outside, and having a regular schedule and routine can also help. Some moments feel better than others, so when you feel good, make a list of things you want to do and plan meals and activities with friends and family members.
Be Gentle with Yourself
Treat yourself like you would treat a good friend and cultivate compassion toward yourself. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling sad, guilty, angry, or depressed. Let yourself feel whatever it is you’re feeling. When the feelings pass, try to do something to cheer yourself up. Don’t ruminate on what you should have, could have, or would have done.
Instead, stay present and seek out activities and people that make you feel good about yourself.
Ask for Help
Whatever you do, do not celebrate the holidays alone. Reach out to family and friends and be honest with them about how you are feeling and what you need.
You may not want to spend all your time with other couples and feel like the odd person out, and that’s okay. Ask your friends to meet you one-on-one, join another family’s holiday feast (with teenagers and spinster aunts and uncles), or find another way to be around people. Volunteering, going to a faith-based event, or even traveling to see a friend or family member who lives out of town are all great ways to focus on others, change your surroudings, and seek company when you need it.
Create New Traditions
Instead of trying to recreate old traditions, accept change and create new ones. For example, instead of crying while you put up old family holiday decorations, buy new ones and celebrate your unique taste. If you and your ex used to go on a ski trip, plan an ice-skating trip or a trip to see Christmas markets instead.
Use this time to think about – and pursue – your own interests. Indulge in what you love about the holiday season and skip the rest.
What Not to Do
Do not expect the holidays to be “the most wonderful time of the year,” and don’t compare yourself to others. You should also avoid:
- Dwelling on past failures
- Subjecting yourself to people who shame you about being divorced
- Thinking about (or asking about) what your ex is doing
- Pretending to be fine and not asking for help
- Trying to numb the pain with drugs and/or alcohol
- Clinging to old traditions and hurts
- Putting everyone else’s needs above your own
No one knows you better than yourself. If you need a moment to be alone, take it, but don’t isolate yourself. Be realistic about things. The holidays will be hard this year, but you will survive.
Moments of happiness will come to you, just like moments of sadness and pain. Let yourself feel without dwelling and focus on what makes you feel good this holiday season.
Before you know it, it will be the New Year and you can begin building your new life.
How to Handle Children
Coparenting during the holidays can be difficult, but your parenting plan should help. Remember that you and your ex are on the same team. After all, you both want your children to be happy.
If you don’t have your children over the holidays, make sure you have activities and social events planned. You may even want to do something special for yourself, like take a trip or give yourself a nice present.
If you do have your children, focus on making the holiday special for them while taking care of yourself.
If you are sharing the holiday, be compassionate and collaborative.
Once again, flexibility, planning, and support from family and friends can make the holidays easier for divorced parents. After all, it takes a village.
Need Help with Your Holiday Plans?
Whether you’re considering divorce and cannot wait until the holidays are over to make your move, you need to change a parenting plan, or you are facing any other legal issues this holiday season, Nichols Dixon is here for you.
We genuinely care about you, and we want to make the holidays as easy as possible for you and your family during this difficult time.
If you need legal help, please do not hesitate to call us at (405) 294-1511 or contact us online – we will help you find a personalized solution for whatever challenge your family is facing.