Wondering how you will get through Christmas this year? Your soon-to-be former spouse is taking the kids to his parents for the holiday, as you always did as a family. But this year you are going to be alone. How are you going to survive the holidays while in the middle of a divorce?
If you are in the middle of your divorce, your time-sharing schedule or parenting plan may not be done yet. You and your soon-to-be-ex will need to plan for the holidays several weeks or months in advance.
It is common that divorce arises when there are already holiday plans on the calendar. Some parents agree to keep this one last holiday season as a family event, knowing that next year will be different.
Others try to negotiate an arrangement for this year that may or may not set the precedent for future years.Holidays without the kids, especially early into the cycle of a co-parenting schedule, can stir many emotions. Among the most common are anxiety, sadness, loneliness, anger, shame, and fear.
These can feel overwhelming. Memories of how you used to be together as a family, even if they never were very satisfying, may become distorted with tinges of nostalgia.
The one irrefutable thing about these memories is that you were together, and this carried with it societal approval. Your identity is safe and undeniable: you were a family.
Even if you felt ill at ease in your role for a little while or a long time in your relationship, society at large didn’t question you or your status. This stamp of approval is stripped when you become separated and are now known as a single parent.
The questions from others are many, and despite the high numbers of those in the same situation as yourself, there is a constant veneer of doubt shrouding you. The curiosity about how things ended or who did what is never simple even if the reasons are relatable and common. This often unspoken judgment doesn’t rest and becomes more poignant during the holidays.
Early in my divorce, when my kids were younger, their father and I would get together during the holidays, not wanting the other parent to not see our kids that day. As the years went by, we have come to split the day so that each of us would see the kids separately.
While I appreciated seeing our kids on holidays, neither the scenario of coming together for the day or having them for half of the holiday gave much peace. When we were together, my mind raced through the catalog of reasons why this didn’t work anymore and battled with the background noise of torturous self-doubt about whether or not I made the right decision.
I have become better at looking six or eight weeks ahead to make a plan over holidays when I don’t have the kids and make myself a priority and to create new traditions. Remember that the divorce is just between you and your ex, and that your kids’ holiday experience should still be a happy one.
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We have witnessed the positive impact of our process in changing the way couples and families move through divorce. We want to do the very same for you.