The holiday season is in full swing, and for lots of folks, that means time with family and loved ones. But if you’re a single mom or dad, or are in the midst of a divorce, the holidays can be a bit overwhelming, and a little less joyful. As a Maryville divorce attorney, I’ve guided a lot of people through a divorce during the holiday season, trying to help them cope a bit better with the stress they feel. That’s why I want to offer you some tips that could help you and your kids have a brighter, happier holiday season this year.
- Perfection isn’t necessary. The first impulse for a lot of parents is to immediately try to create the picture-perfect holiday, but all that does is add a lot of unneeded stress – for you and your family. Besides, your kids will understand that this year is going to be different. Be honest with them from the start, and do what you can.
- Come up with a plan for visitation. Talk to or sit down with your ex (whichever you prefer) and come up with a solid plan about who will spend what part of which day, and which night, with which parent. If your parenting plan says your spouse gets Christmas Day, or the first night of Hanukah, or a specific time for whichever holiday you celebrate, then that’s where your children have to go, unless both of you are willing to compromise. Make sure to work out travel plans (especially if one of you goes out-of-state for the holidays), as well as pick up and drop off times.
- Outspending doesn’t equal “out-loving.” Holidays can be hard even with two incomes, and the urge to spoil your family or your kids with extra gifts will be strong. Don’t give into it. Spend what you can spend, and find other ways to let your children and loved ones know what they mean to you. If there’s a more expensive gift that your children have asked for, consider splitting the cost with your ex (if he or she is amendable), and giving that present during the time you pick up or drop off the kids, so both of you can watch your son or daughter open it.
- Try some new traditions. This might be the year to try something new for the holidays. Maybe you can open Christmas presents on Christmas Eve instead, or use Skype or Facetime to light the menorah together. Maybe this is the year that you change up the holiday meal to something your kids love, instead of what’s “traditional,” or you spend the day volunteering or helping the community. Ask your kids what new traditions they might like to start, and use this year as the jumping-off point.
- Seek out the companionship of others. This might feel like the hardest thing you’ll ever do, especially if you are feeling angry, anxious or depressed. Accept the invite to your friend’s or relative’s party, join a support group, travel the country – spend time with people doing things you love.
It’s natural to feel anxious about the holidays when you’re newly divorced or separated, but remember this: you’re allowed to enjoy them, too. And if you and your ex are amicable enough that you can all spend the holidays together, that’s always an option. No one says you have to be apart just because you’re divorced.
If you are considering a divorce, seek out the counsel of an experienced and compassionate Maryville divorce attorney, so you start off on the right foot. Please contact my law firm, Shepherd and Associates, P.C. by filling out this contact form or by calling 865.225.9655.