Surviving Divorce During the Holidays


All around Tampa, Christmas trees are being lit, menorahs are being polished, and unity cups and kinaras are being set on display. Throughout the hustle and bustle of what is generally seen as a season of togetherness and family, many people face surviving divorce during the holidays. The holiday season can be stressful as it is; add a divorce to the mix, and it’s enough to make anyone raise a white flag.

While divorce is often seen as a breaking or an ending, it can also be an intense period of renewal and rebirth. Part of that energy can be imparted into breathing new life into the holidays and reshaping them to fit your needs. You can make a plan for surviving divorce during the holidays. 

7 Tips for Surviving the Holidays During a Divorce

Identify stressors and eliminate as many as possible.

Stress adds up quickly during the holidays. We get it at work, at home, from family and friends. During a divorce, however, that stress can seem magnified. To keep from being overwhelmed, identify different things or activities that are generating stress and consider how many can be eliminated. It’s ok to skip the White Elephant gift exchange or cut back on how many treats you bake. Permit yourself to say no to some activities or events to be sure you have the energy for others.

Make a plan.

Identifying the events and traditions you want to uphold can help you create a plan that gets you through to January. Take a look at your calendar and pencil in any events. If you won’t be celebrating with your kids, what can you do instead? What are your favorite holiday activities? Make sure to write those down in pen! In addition, consider what you will do when you feel sad, lonely, or overwhelmed. Who will you call?

Communicate with your co-parent.

Keeping your co-parent in the loop for certain plans is important if you have children. This is likely the last thing you want to do; however, communicating and cooperating are necessary to establish the new role of co-parents and ensure your children have a nice holiday. Make the kids the focus of the conversation and keep things civil.

For many, the holiday season is about family. When going through a divorce, discussing the holidays with your soon-to-be ex is the last thing you may want to do. The same goes for those recently divorced. However, your co-parent will always be part of your children’s family. Some divorced families continue to celebrate together, especially with younger children. Others may find that discussing gift-giving or trip planning before the holidays is helpful for alleviating possible stress down the line. Open communication can help ensure your former spouse doesn’t hamper your new traditions and that both co-parents can create the holiday environments they envision within their own homes.

Surround yourself with a support network.

You may feel like you’re bumming out your friends with your divorce or that no one wants to be around you. That’s not the case. Make plans with loved ones and celebrate being together. Understand that they care about you, even while you are going through a tough time.

Craft new traditions.

If you have the energy to start crafting new traditions, a divorce is a good time to start. As an integral part of the family, kids should be involved in planning to the extent they can. Older kids may want to help establish a new tradition, while younger kids can share some of their favorite traditions from the past that can be integrated into your new traditions. Traditions can be as small as reading a particular book every year or as large as a special yearly trip to grandmas. Volunteering at a soup kitchen or toy drive is another way to create wonderful memories while instilling valuable lessons. What’s important is that you reflect on what will bring the most joy to you and your children that is within the realm of possibility.

Don’t focus on the date.

You may not have the kids on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the holidays together. Some families choose to celebrate on a different day or create an entirely new holiday that is unique to them. For example, if you can’t be together on Thanksgiving, you can still celebrate the spirit of thankfulness on another day by writing about the things in your life that make you grateful.

Alternatively, you can host a gingerbread house-making contest or Thanksgiving leftover extravaganza. The goal isn’t necessarily to recreate the missed holiday but to craft a new way of being together that is joyful and thoughtful.

Take care of yourself.

During the holiday season, we tend to focus on others. To nurture strength and fortitude, however, investing in yourself is important. Make sure to take the time to participate in activities that matter to you and help you recharge your batteries, whether exercising, reading, or taking a hot bath.

Take it a day at a time.

One day’s stress doesn’t have to carry over into the next. Take every day as a new opportunity. Reach out to your support network as necessary. If the children are with their other parent, it’s ok for you to enjoy your holiday! Plan to get together with friends or family members. There’s no reason you should spend Thanksgiving or Christmas morning alone when the kids are elsewhere. Consider taking a trip or hosting a Friendsgiving event. If you know you’d like to speak to your children during the holiday, communicate with your co-parent and set a time so everyone is clear on expectations.

Evaluating your expectations and making a concerted effort to set new, realistic expectations for the holiday season can go a long way toward improving the next few weeks. Remember to focus on the joy of what you have and to set aside any worry or stress your divorce may be causing you, if only temporarily.

For more information, contact our Tampa divorce attorneys today.

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