Celebrating the holidays during or after divorce can be difficult, but following the tips below can help you get through, and even enjoy this time of year.
Well 2020 has been a year full of challenges, especially if you’re dealing with divorce in such uncertain and unprecedented times. And now, right on cue, we’re moving into the holiday season. When we think of the holidays, things like family, loved ones and friends come to mind.
But if you’ve been going through a big change in family dynamics, emotions and feelings that come up this time of year can be especially difficult. While there is no one way to work through these issues, we hope that some of these suggestions help in making things a little bit easier.
- Set Boundaries – It’s a good idea to lay some ground rules and have clear expectations going into the holidays. This includes boundaries with your ex-spouse as well as family and friends. While family and friends most likely have good intentions, their actions may not be helpful in an already stressful situation, especially if children are involved. It might be beneficial to have a phone call a few weeks before the holidays, to discuss how they should address your divorce (or not, if that’s your choice) with yourself or with your kids at any parties or gatherings
- Start New Traditions – Old traditions might bring back painful memories, so this is a great time to start some new ones. Don’t worry about doing anything big or elaborate, it can be something as simple as making certain food for breakfast (maybe cinnamon rolls!), creating a new craft for a decoration, or watching a holiday movie that everyone enjoys
- Determine custody arrangements – Clarify which parent will have the child or children well before the actual holiday. This can be helpful for both parents and children. When families are going through divorce, things can feel unstable for kids. By making a clear plan (with minimal arguing, if possible) this might help them feel more secure during a big season of change. Once you make a plan, it’s important to stick to it to avoid any additional confusion or instability
- Surround yourself with support – It’s completely understandable to want to avoid anything holiday-related this year, but having at least one person to confide in, or spend time with (even virtually!) can be extremely helpful. You could set up a Zoom call or have a holiday dinner with a group of friends in person, if possible. You could also find an online divorce support group to share experiences and get ideas for different, fun holiday activities. Volunteering is another way of getting out and focusing on something else in the moment
- Remind yourself that it will get better – The time during and immediately after divorce can be particularly hard, especially this time of year. But it will get better. You’ll begin to heal and adjust to new routines while slowly easing into new traditions and memories. Don’t resist feeling any current emotions that you’re experiencing, but don’t set up camp there. Even though it’s hard right now, this won’t last forever.
This time of transition is never easy, especially when you add on the extra expectations of the holidays. But you will get through it. Take extra good care of yourself during these heavier times, plan things out the best you can, and try to remember to take things one step at a time.