Let’s face it – if you are in the midst of a divorce or celebrating your first post-divorce holiday season, you may not be having a lot of fun.
For many people, the pain associated with broken traditions, kids not being with you or being shuffled back and forth, or even just the prospect of being alone is pretty tough to take.
Making matters worse is all the apparent happy families all around you, making your world feel a bit smaller.
I hate to break it to you but…this year may just suck.
If you feel like you are getting overwhelmed trying to maintain your usual traditions, putting on a happy face, and trying to figure out how to pay for it all take heart!
There are things you can actually do to make the holiday season a little better.
Nope – no magic pill. No blank check to drink your way through the season. This is a “gotta go through it, can’t go around it” moment.
But before you just decide you are going to be miserable, try out these tips and see if you can’t make a little bit of happiness happen for yourself this time of year.
Stop hoping and start planning.
Instead of waiting to see what the day will bring, plan for what you will do. Try to keep it low key. Stress is not your friend! This is particularly critical if you are alone – if possible seek out some people you really care about – and who care about you – and crash at least part of their holiday celebrations.
Give yourself a fresh start.
New traditions. New decorations. New rituals. Or, revisit some from your childhood that you haven’t observed for a while. While you may not want to go with a completely new slate of activities, finding some new ways to revive your spirit will help you move forward towards the life you have now.
Let the kids in on the act.
Where appropriate let the kids help plan out the day’s activities. You want them to know that the spirit of the season will continue, but may look a little different. Kids love to plan and will be excited to add some new ideas to your holiday mix.
Divide time with the kids FAIRLY.
Not what is necessarily fair to you; what is fair to the kids. The kids are ultimately the ones that feel the most uneasy about all the changes in their family life. Keeping civil, dividing time in a way that is in the best interest of the kids, and not trying to compete for their love and attention is your goal. Regardless of your ex-spouse’s behavior, your focus is on what is best for your children.
If you haven’t done so already, schedule out what you will do in the days preceding and following the holiday. Keep it simple, delegate where possible and resist the temptation to go overboard. Knowing what you are doing and when will go a long way toward your peace of mind.
Lean on your support system.
Don’t wait for people to offer. Yes, ideally everyone would have your situation at top of mind and be proactive in making sure you are doing fine. However, they may be just a little preoccupied. Give them the gift of letting them know what you need – a shoulder to cry on, a dinner companion, someone that can reach the gutters to fix the lights that fell down. Just pick up the phone and text (or call, if you’re feeling old-fashioned)
Give your expectations the month off.
If you are getting wrapped up in planning the perfect holiday with all the trimmings, trying to bake all the yummy food in the world, sending goodwill towards others and hunting down fantastic presents in an effort to hide the fact that you are not with your ex. Guess again. All the “stuff” may distract you, but you’ll still know. Remind yourself that this year is different, that you are a mere mortal and that you may feel crappy. And that’s okay.
Put self-care at the top of your wish list.
In fact, put it at the top of your must-do list. Get enough sleep, water, exercise, and nutrition. Squeeze in some quiet me time – meditate, go for a walk, read.
Put your credit card away and that 3rd glass of wine down.
Be balanced with alcohol and keep spending in check. That goes for prescription meds too. Numbing yourself through the season is a no-no!
Acknowledge that you suck at this – as of right now.
This holiday, this year – they probably aren’t going to go down in history as your favorites. That’s okay because…you have future holidays to look forward to! And you’ll be better at this by then. A little time, a little wisdom, a lot of a patience and then BAM! The holidays will be your friend again.
The holidays are a test of the soul for many people that are experiencing the effects of divorce.
No list, no amount of prep, no platitudes are going to take that darkness and make it a shining bright spot in your life.
But a little self-compassion, a healthy dose of boundaries, and 1 or 2 glasses of wine (just watch out for #9 on the list!) will help you get through.
If you are really struggling, reach out for some professional help. A therapist/counselor, coach, support group, or another avenue of help can provide a safe environment for you to explore and receive the help you need.
P.S. Did you get everything you needed from this article? No? Maybe it’s time for a little more.
My goal is to meet you where you are and walk with you until you’re ready to set out again. A little strategy goes a long way. Let’s set up a mini-strategy session to get you started!
And don’t forget to grab your FREE Divorce Survival Kit before you go!
Looking for some holistic ways to care for yourself? Check out my new website www.layloyoga.com where we explore how to use Yoga and wellness as a way to heal your heart and deal with the stress and anxiety of day to day living.