by Kristen Hilty
So this your first “different” holiday season because of separation or divorce. Different means change. Yes, change is hard but it’s not bad.
Let me offer you some tips for getting through this season.
- Acknowledge that change doesn’t have to be hard. I promise you though, it will be uncomfortable! The more you embrace it and lean into it, the better!
- Plan early! Don’t wait until the last minute to coordinate with your Ex what the schedule will be. Please remember that the kids want to spend time with BOTH parents.
- Christmas does not have to be Dec 25th! If you won’t be with your kids on the 25th, simply plan a “Special Christmas” when you will be. There is nothing going away, it’s just being moved to a different day.
- If this is your first Christmas without the kids, reach out to friends and family, invite yourself if you have to! Do NOT spend it alone!!!
- Start new traditions. It’s natural to think “I need to keep normalcy.” You and the kids will have more fun starting brand new traditions that you’ve never had. Starting new traditions also means quality time.
It’s easy to let your emotions get the best of you. If this is your first holiday as a single person, you are still in the grieving process and you can expect to have some emotional ups and downs. Remember “intense” days are normal so lean on the friends and family members that will help you focus on your new future, rather than dwell on the past. Change your story to be about new possibilities. Are there activities that you’ve always wanted to try but never had the time? Now’s the time to make it happen! For example, take an art class, schedule a weekend trip out of town with friends, or even book a spa day by yourself. I’m a financial advisor, so of course make sure it’s within your budget and can be done guilt-free.
Speaking of budgets, don’t let yourself fall into the “best parent” trap of trying to outspend your ex on gifts. The kids see right through it and trust me, they don’t care. Don’t get me wrong, they’ll love all the gifts – for about 2 minutes. Kids want your quality time…not your money! Pass on the latest iPhone and buy a board game that will force you to interact with each other for an extended period. These are the memories the kids will treasure and you will too.
Here’s an idea that I learned from a divorced couple…There are no gifts from “Mom” or gifts from “Dad.” Any gift that isn’t from Santa is from “Mom and Dad.” Kind of brilliant right? Takes that whole competition to be the favorite parent off the table. Again, just an idea.
Good luck this Holiday season. Remember, you get to define how your holiday season will look, it’s not defined for you. Choose to see the beauty of a new beginning and create that new story. You can do it!