The first holiday season after your separation or divorce is probably the roughest, simply because you have to make some big adjustments. You may also still be grieving the loss of your old life. Even if things weren’t great, they were predictable — and that gave you some kind of stability that may now be missing.
So, how do you get through it? Here are some suggestions:
Understand your legal rights
If you share minor children with your ex-spouse, now is a great time to get out your parenting plan and read it. You need to make sure that you’re completely familiar with your holiday custody and visitation schedule.
You may want to negotiate some “trades” for time to accommodate different holiday plans. Knowing your custody schedule can help you negotiate from a position of strength. (Plus, if you run into conflicts with your co-parent, it’s better to know early.)
Seek out others
If you don’t have your kids on one of the holidays, consider these options:
- Host a dinner party for your closest friends or substitute family
- Ask a sibling, an aunt or another relative if they’re holding a gathering, and go
- Visit a place of worship or go on a spiritual retreat
- Volunteer at a charity event, like a Toys-for-Tots party
In essence, you want to shift your focus away from the past and get involved with a new (or old) community where you feel welcomed.
Start all new traditions
Again, this is all about embracing the present and letting go of the past. If decorating the house “as a family” seems odd to the kids (and you) without your co-parent present, go for a drive and check out the outdoor decorations other people have put up or go for a special dinner and dessert, instead.
While you may face a few difficult days ahead, your resilience will eventually shine through.