If you are newly divorced, then holidays after divorce can be hard. Old traditions can no longer be kept, you might be experiencing loneliness, and it might be difficult to accept your new life. Things will get better, but in the meantime, here’s how to survive when it feels like everything is getting on top of you.
How To Survive Holidays After Divorce
Be flexible. The first thing to remember is to be flexible – a birthday or Christmas might be just as good celebrated the following day. What’s important is the memories that you create with your children. You may also want to think about starting new traditions with your children–this is a special day that is about spending quality time together. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money—it just has to be meaningful to you and the children. Take them fishing or hiking, play outside, create a fun movie night, play a board game, or do whatever you and your children enjoy doing together.
Be honest and open. Be open with communication. Negative emotions during holidays after divorce might affect your children as well as you. Children are very intuitive and they feel when their parents are feeling sad. They may feel conflicted about the changes, so be understanding with your children and allow them to openly communicate with you. Allow them to tell you how they’re feeling and if they say they miss their other parent, accept that, validate it, and let them know that you’re there for them.
Volunteer. Giving to others is a tried and true way of taking the focus off your own problems. It’s like a temporary relief pill for your post-divorce holiday stress. If you are not already connected to an organization that needs holiday help, start by doing some research into local volunteer possibilities. You can also find opportunities through your church, not-for-profit or community center. Invite a friend, bring your children, or enjoy the time serving others on your own.
Remind yourself: it will get easier. The first of everything—especially anniversaries and holidays—are usually the worst. At the same time, don’t judge yourself if the first or first few are a breeze, and grief suddenly catches up with you a couple holidays later. No matter how long it’s been, holidays after divorce often serve as reminders of your painful past. Each one can get a little easier.
Stay busy. Unstructured time is the enemy of the newly divorced person – especially if your kids are spending the holidays with their other parent. Take advantage of the time you have alone and make a plan. Throw yourself into that home improvement project you never seem to have time for. Cross off items on your to-do list. Read that novel you never have time to start, start jogging, or take up that hobby you’ve been meaning to for years.
Take a social media sabbatical. Studies show that when we’re already feeling down, scrolling through Facebook can make us feel worse. Comparison is the thief of joy as the saying goes, and you might be better off skipping the endless stream of carefully staged holiday photos from friends. Delete the app from your phone and enjoy a few Facebook-free days.
Consider holidays after divorce as a time of renewal. An old phase of your life has come to a close, and you’re making room for a new one. If you tear up at memories of holidays that you and your ex spent together, you may be gazing at the past through rose-colored glasses. You no longer have to deal with difficult in-laws or pretend to be happy in front of the kids. Spend your first post-divorce holiday the way you want and remember that as time passes, this will get easier.