How to Deal with the Holidays During a Separation and/or Divorce
The holidays are usually a time of happiness but they can also be stressful. Normal stresses of the holiday are family coming to town, shopping for everyone on your list, decorating, and the normal hustle and bustle during this time. However, if you are going through a separation and/or divorce, this time can add more stress to an already tense situation.
There are some important ideas to keep in mind when navigating this new journey along with navigating the holidays. The most important thing you can do is to remember to keep your children first. Do not let your emotions guide your next steps. Your children need to feel as though life will be okay with this new change. Even though there is a sense of loss, children need the stability of both parents being there for them.
Following these simple steps will help everyone keep their sanity throughout the holidays.
- The most important step is to develop a clear plan on parenting schedules.
- Be sure to have the days planned out for what parent has what days and what pick up and drop off will look like. This is so important to keep in mind so the children never have to ask questions (and you will know exactly what to say if they do).
- If the two parties are having difficulty deciding the schedule, find a third party that could help mediate the scheduling. This part should not involve the children. Remember, spending time with both parents is good for your children. Do not try to keep them from the other parent.
- Even though they are children, be honest with them. Keep the details on their level and to what they need to know. Children are very intuitive and being honest with them will help with their grasp of the situation.
- Don’t fish for answers from the children regarding the other parent.
- Be sure to welcome them home and ask questions about their time away. However, do not ask them questions regarding what the other parent did or didn’t do.
- Don’t use the children has pawn pieces to help with your fight against the other parent. Be supportive and listen in a positive manner.
- Be aware of everyone’s feelings.
- Talk to your friends or other family members regarding your own feelings. Don’t speak to the children about how you feel. This will make them feel as though they need to choose the better parent.
- You can speak with your children about how they feel but be open minded to their feelings. Don’t try to place the blame on the other parent.
- Don’t be alone during the holidays. If your children are with the other parent, go visit friends and family during that time. Your feelings are not invalid but spending time with others will help pull you out of your funk.
- Try to keep your traditions, even if they are a little different, and you can create new traditions.
- These traditions will stay with your children throughout their life. Keep as many of the old traditions so they don’t lose those special things along with what they are losing. However, if those traditions bring up negative emotions, then it is okay to scratch those.
- Create new traditions that you celebrate with them while they are with you. That could be anything from cooking to watching a certain holiday movie(s).
- Do something for someone else.
- Donate time to shelters, food pantries, soup kitchens, or anything where you are helping others. This will help you find things to be grateful for if that is an area you are struggling with while helping others!
- Be patient and remember that it isn’t about the “stuff” but the memories.
- This new “loss/change” will take some time to get used to especially during this time. You may not be able to do everything you want this year but it will eventually straighten itself out.
- Remember, the memories last longer than anything else