Don’t Just Survive the Holidays, Enjoy Them! (A Pocket Guide for Divorcees)

{4:00 minutes to read} The holidays are approaching and, in lieu of excitement, profound realization sets in for many newly divorced parents: This will be the first time I will not spend the holidays with my children. Disrupted holiday traditions are immensely difficult to bear, as is the idea of impending loneliness on the most relevant holidays.

Change is assured, yet it is possible not only to survive it but to also enjoy it. So, put that frozen TV dinner back and make a plan to embrace something new and different during the holiday season!

Make a Plan

During parts of the holiday season when you are not with your children, take advantage of the time to do something fun. It’s the perfect time to even be a little self-indulgent! Think about what you would enjoy doing, like taking a trip to the spa and enjoying special treats. In so doing, you’ll keep your mind occupied with enjoyable distractions.

Create New Traditions

Anticipating the challenge of changing holiday traditions is an important part of the divorce process. When developing a parenting plan, it is helpful to discuss both typical and atypical arrangements to see which best suits your needs. For example, maybe you want to divide the holidays so that one parent always has Thanksgiving and the other always has Christmas. Or, alternatively, you may divide the Thanksgiving holiday so that it’s 2 days with mom and 2 days with dad, and so on. New traditions will then form, and the children will end up with a new routine that they can embrace and that feels really special.

Change in tradition is particularly difficult for families that previously spent the holiday with one spouse’s extended family. For example, let’s imagine a wife who has always spent a particular holiday with her husband’s family. The husband can keep doing that regardless of whether his children are with him. His former wife, however, will not be, and it will become vital for her to develop a new tradition for her and her children. Perhaps that includes a fun out-of-town trip!

Maintaining Traditions Throughout the Divorce Process

Another option that some families employ is to keep traditions irrespective of the divorce process. While continuing to celebrate together is probably the most unusual choice, many parents continue the traditions as a family, even though the parents are in the process of divorcing or are already divorced. 

To do this successfully, it is important to have a very explicit conversation about how this arrangement is going to work. The assistance of a mediator, in this regard, is helpful. It is imperative to discuss how the new arrangement will be presented to the children and extended family. In addition, it is vital to discuss how the spouses are going to interact, particularly if there is anger or tension, and what the rules around the celebration are going to be.

For many divorcees, the holiday season can be challenging. However, these simple ideas can help!

Have you created new holiday traditions for your or your children? If so, what have you tried?

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