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.
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.)