If you google “holidays after divorce” or any other related search you may be discouraged. Yes, I’m one of those people who search for really random stuff on the internet. Not having many divorced single parents in my circle of friends, I often wonder if anyone can understand the caveats of life after divorce.
Sadly, my search left me anything but inspired. Mostly my optimism for the upcoming holidays faded. So I decided to write my own encouragement for divorced parents during the holidays. This list is particularly for those who are new to divorced life and haven’t quite hit their groove for all of these new post-divorce experiences.
- Don’t compare – You know enough not to compare your holidays to your married friends but also, don’t compare to other divorced families. You may hear of divorced people who join their ex in the holiday festivities (that they continue to celebrate as a “group”); you may hear of those who have their kids for the entire holiday; you may hear of those who don’t have their kids at all; and you will certainly hear a lot of in-between. Don’t compare your experience to theirs–try your best to focus on your experience and trust that this Christmas is playing out just as it should and it shouldn’t be any different than it is.
- Things you might enjoy that your married friends won’t:
- If your children get to spend time with your ex at any point during the holidays, you will either have time before to prepare without little “helpers” or you will have time afterwards to clean up without little “helpers.” This will hopefully give you full capacity to engage with and enjoy the time that you do have with your children this year.
- No in-laws! Now, I loved my in-laws (and still do!) and I really enjoy being able to focus my efforts on a fewer number of people these days. I only have to focus on (and shop for) my family. I only have to accommodate and plan to get together with my family. While life is simplified I shall enjoy it. And if your in-laws were not the best, you have even more to celebrate!
- You can take care of yourself amidst the holidays (without guilt). You can head to the gym for yoga on Christmas Eve; you can hit the gym the day after Christmas or go for a leisurely walk. Perhaps you can schedule a massage before or after the festivities. (This is one tradition I plan to keep regardless of my relationship status!)
- You can enjoy time with people you might not otherwise during the holidays. I spent much of my married holiday life focused on family alone—there was simply no time to enjoy time with friends close to or on the holidays. Being solo affords for opportunities to get together and make memories with people you would not have in the past.
3. Get outside the box – how can you make this holiday memorable and fun for YOU? Remember those final months or days before the birth of your first child, you can never go back to those kid less days again, you will forever be a parent. These first holidays after a divorce, when you are flying solo, are unique and I want you to see them as a treasure. Next year you may be in a relationship or five years from now you may be married. But right now you have two unique opportunities
- First, for a period of time over the holidays, you get your kids all to yourself. You get to enjoy your time with them exactly the way you decide—throw out all of the “normal” traditions and decide on some new fun! You get to decide and you get to focus on your kiddos without distraction. How many parents have this experience? See it as a gem. Some people never get this unique opportunity with their kids.
- You don’t have anyone else to consider when you are without your kiddos. This season of solitude will not last forever; you will be in a relationship again, so enjoy being able to do absolutely anything your heart desires!
This is only my second Christmas post-divorce so I am still learning. But I have a sense that life can look drastically different a year from now so I plan to do my best to enjoy this Christmas just as it is. I’d love to hear your thoughts and tips for navigating the holidays after divorce.
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