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A Divorcee's Guide to Surviving the Holidays

5 Tips for Surviving the Holidays

It’s that time of year again. The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is often approached with a combination of dread and cheer. Add a divorce to the mix, and the holidays can turn into a complicated mess. Here are five ways to save the celebrations.

1) Plan Ahead and Stick to the Plan

The holidays are such a hectic time, especially when you no longer have a partner to rely on for help. You can avoid some of the chaos by having a good plan in place. Don’t wait for the last minute to figure out all the details. If you are hosting, keep a daily calendar and schedule what has to get done by when. Assigning a deadline and time slot for each chore makes things so much more manageable and will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed. Sticking to the plan will also help you maintain your sanity. If you have planned out your menu, don’t go to the supermarket and buy 50 other things not on your menu. If you planned to clean the house on Tuesday, don’t wait until Wednesday. If you planned dinner for 5pm and Uncle Fred is running late, dinner is still at 5pm.

2) Communicate with Your Ex

Even if you are not on the best of terms, try to maintain the holiday spirit with your ex. Put any bitterness and resentment aside. You want to enjoy this time of year without that heavy weight on you. If you have children, honor the terms that were set forth in your divorce agreement concerning parenting times during the holidays. Make sure you and your ex communicate clearly about plans. Who will have the kids when? Set firm pick-up and drop-off times. Find out what festivities they will be participating in. You may also want to discuss gift giving in advance to make sure your kids don’t receive duplicate gifts. And remember, gift giving is not a competition between you and your ex. The most valuable gifts— gifts of time, attention and love—are heartfelt and free. If you will be without your kids, don’t sabotage their time with their other parent. Work together to ensure your children have a joyous holiday.

3) Combine Old and New Traditions

If you are newly divorced, holidays can be especially rough. The family unit has changed and everything seems different now. This may leave you wondering how to celebrate. Think about all your family traditions. Keep the ones you actually enjoy and toss the ones where you feel like you would just be going through the motions. Maintaining some of your old traditions will add to your sense of stability, while creating new traditions can signify your fresh new start. Sounds like a good combination! Of course, let your kids have a say too. They may cherish traditions from past holidays and simultaneously enjoy coming up with their own new traditions.

4) Remember What’s Important

Don’t put pressure on yourself for the holidays to be perfect. It’s not all about fancy meals and presents and decorations and parties. Remember the true meaning of the holidays. Revisit the origins of whatever holiday you are celebrating. Pause and connect with that. Then, ask yourself what are you truly thankful for? Grateful for? Even in the midst of divorce, we have blessings to count.

5) Know Your Limits

Holidays stir up all sorts of emotions and expectations. Allow yourself time to adjust to your new life circumstances. If you aren’t feeling very festive this year, that’s ok. Know your limits and set boundaries accordingly. It’s ok to turn down invites. It’s ok to say you’re not up for hosting. It’s ok to ask for help. It’s ok if you don’t get holiday cards out. It’s ok if you’re feeling blah. It’s ok to say no to family and friends. If you are having a case of the holiday blues this year, just remember there’s always next year, and there will be plenty to celebrate in the future.


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