Are you dreading Christmas? Will it be your first special holiday since your separation or divorce? Are you depressed about not having your children for that special day this year? Whatever the holiday, you are not alone. Here are some survival tips to make it through:

1.  Ensure the Children’s Schedule Is Specific.

Confirm the children’s schedule with your ex as far in advance as you can. If you don’t already have a specific schedule set out, then negotiate those days/times as possible. Your children will appreciate knowing in advance where they will be, especially if they need to let Santa know where to deliver their presents!

2.  Don’t Fight Over Which Days You Have Your Children.

Make whatever days your have with your children special. Most children of divorce will tell you that it’s not the quantity of time that is important, it is the quality of time – the memories created – during the time you have. If you really need particular days due to work or visiting relatives, offer to trade days with your ex or give your ex those special days next year. Remember the golden rule: treat your ex they way you would like to be treated, even if it isn’t reciprocated.

3.  Do Something Special For Yourself.

Enjoy a day by yourself. Open a bottle of wine, watch basketball on television, take a bubble bath, wrap presents — do whatever you want to do to relax for one day. That way you’ll be ready when the kids get there.

4.  Support The Children’s Relationship With The Other Parent.

If you need to speak to someone about your sad feelings, talk to a friend or therapist – not your kids. The children don’t need to hear it. They need to hear that it is okay to have fun with their other parent too.

5.  Create New Traditions.

This is a new beginning for you and your children so don’t try to replicate the past. Find new ways to celebrate the event. You can preserve some of the past traditions but find new ways of celebrating too.   Make the time you have with your children meaningful and something they will always remember.

6.  Get Outside.

Go for a walk or ski or snowshoe. There is nothing more rejuvenating than being outside with nature and your family. When your kids are with you, take them outside too. A good snowball fight can really build up an appetite. Or, the kids will always remember the time they tackled you in a game of football.

7.  Give of Your Heart.

Most people are tight on money this year, and that is likely worsened if you are recently separated. Do something special for the people you love. Maybe you can write a special little poem for each of them or list twenty ways you appreciate them. Gifts often don’t have lasting meaning. Can you even list five gifts you received last year or the year before? It is the feelings of love and appreciation that last forever.

8.  Stay Sober.

If you over-drink, you run the risk of crumbling into a pile of self-pity and depression. Nobody wants to see that and certainly your kids don’t need to see it. Have fun but be careful so can keep it together emotionally, especially during your first Christmas since your separation.

9.  Surround Yourself With Positive, Supportive People.

If your family or friends are negative, remind them the season is all about gratitude, love and appreciation. Park you own negativity and search for the positive in everything and everyone, even your ex.

10.  Relax.

Know that in time the holidays will become easier to get through and more fun. Just take a deep breath and get through your first set of holidays. Next year, it will be better.

(Adapted from Brian Galbraith of the Ontario Family Law Blog.)

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Photo of Michelle O'Neil Michelle O'Neil

Michelle May O’Neil has 30+ years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes…

Michelle May O’Neil has 30+ years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes genuine compassion for her client’s difficulties, yet she can be relentless when in pursuit of a client’s goals. One judge said of Ms. O’Neil, “She cannot be out-gunned, out-briefed, or out-lawyered!”

Family Law Specialist

Ms. O’Neil became a board-certified family law specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1997 and has maintained her certification since that time. While representing clients in litigation before the trial court is an important part of her practice, Ms. O’Neil also handles appellate matters in the trial court, courts of appeals and Texas Supreme Court. Lawyers frequently consult with Ms. O’Neil on their litigation cases about specialized legal issues requiring particularized attention both at the trial court and appellate levels. This gives her a unique perspective and depth of perception that benefits both her litigation and appellate clients.

Top Lawyers in Texas and America

Ms. O’Neil has been named to the list of Texas SuperLawyers for many years, a peer-voted honor given to only about 5% of the lawyers in the state of Texas. Ms. O’Neil received the special honor of being named by Texas SuperLawyers as one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Texas, Top 100 Lawyers in Texas, and Top 100 Lawyers in DFW for multiple years. She was named one of the Best Lawyers in America and received an “A-V” peer review rating by Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directories for the highest quality legal ability and ethical standards.

Author and Speaker

A noted author, Ms. O’Neil released her second book Basics of Texas Divorce Law in November 2010, with a second edition released in 2013, and a third edition expected in 2015.  Her first book, All About Texas Law and Kids, was published in September 2009 by Texas Lawyer Press. In 2012, Ms. O’Neil co-authored the booklets What You Need To Know About Common Law Marriage In Texas and Social Study Evaluations.  The State Bar of Texas and other providers of continuing education for attorneys frequently enlist Ms. O’Neil to provide instruction to attorneys on topics of her expertise in the family law arena.