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Divorce Blog

Thriving through the Holidays: A Guide for Divorcing Couples

By Colette Fortin

The holidays can be stressful at the best of times. Shopping, decorating, baking, year-end work deadlines, kids concerts, work parties, scheduling, gift-wrapping, family obligations! Are you exhausted yet? It’s a wonder we don’t all do what Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon did in the movie Four Christmases and just bail out of the whole thing. So how do you manage through the holidays when you add divorce to the equation? Well, there are some things you can do to help ease the stress load. And I’m all for reducing stress in our lives!

If you have kids:

  • Meet with your former spouse and plan a schedule. Don’t wait until the last minute. Work out the details (be specific). Post it on the fridge so the kids know what to expect.
  • Try not to shuffle them back and forth. This may be the year where you cut back on Aunt Minnie’s celebration and just keep it simple. Besides, would you want to eat 3 turkey dinners within a 2-day period? This is your opportunity to participate in the functions YOU want to.
  • When it comes to gift giving, the new toys belong to the kids, not you. Let them bring the toys with them when they go to moms or dads. Maybe after the novelty has worn off you can work out a deal that some toys stay at your house. But in the beginning, let them take what they want when they travel. It’s tough enough for kids to shuffle back and forth. Be glad that they love the gift you bought them so much that they want to take it with them wherever they go.
  • So the kids won’t be with you until the 26th or 27th? This is great! Permission NOT to cook a turkey! Involve the kids in the menu planning. Kids love finger foods, fondues, make your own kind of stuff. And you don’t have to spend the day in the kitchen alone, stuffing, basting, carving birdzilla only to be left eating turkey pot pie until February. It’s a chance to start new traditions that can be fun!

What about when I’m alone?

Sad Man over the HolidaysBeing alone on holidays can be very stressful and sad, especially if this is your first year. So how do you deal with that? Well if you don’t have family nearby, lean on your friends. You’ve been there for them many times, just be honest and tell them you don’t want to be alone. Chances are they’ve been thinking about you but don’t want to invade your space.

If you have the budget and time for it, check out last minute deals to warm destinations. Nobody usually flies on Christmas Day and there can be some pretty good deals out there. After the last month of crisp weather, a couple of days on a warm beach could be pretty inviting.

Pamper yourself. Our lives are full of obligations, have tos, should dos, deadlines and responsibilities. We rarely take time to do what WE want. When was the last time someone said you have 2 days with no one to be accountable to or for? No obligations! Rent movies and have a PJ day, buy a good book and read all day, go to the movies, cook the food YOU want (no chicken nuggets please).

This year make a plan to take the stress out of the holidays. Take care of yourself and remember, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Peace

Colette Fortin