While many couples put off divorce until the New Year, it’s not uncommon for many others to start the process without delay. If you are about to start the divorce process or have already started a few weeks ago, you probably already know that the holidays are going to look and feel a lot different this year, and that can mean all sorts of things.
For most people, divorce is already a stressful and emotionally complicated ordeal. Add the contrasting tone of “the holidays” into the mix, and it can really many a person feel dissonant and out of place more than usual. If children are involved, parents who are ending their marriage have even more complicated challenges to overcome.
That said, challenges involving a divorce during the holidays are just that: challenges. And challenges can be overcome. If you’re dealing with divorce during the holidays this year, take a second to review some of the tips below and see if any can help you overcome your challenges this year.
Make Sure You Have a Plan
Getting through the holidays while dealing with your divorce is going to require a lot of planning. On top of work, caring for your children, and duties at home, you’ll need to find time to meet with your attorney, go to mediation (possibly), go to court, and handle all of the other affairs concerning your divorce.
All of this will take time and – perhaps more difficulty – coordination with your spouse. If you and your spouse are on relatively good terms, planning on who will take kids to/from school, activities, and how to split time with them during the holidays can be easy. If you and your spouse are not on good terms, planning may be more difficult but no less necessary.
You don’t necessarily have to have your life planned down to the minute, but even a little consideration for the “logistics” of dealing with divorce during the holidays will go a long way.
Try to Embrace New Changes
The holidays won’t be the same this year, which means that longstanding plans and traditions may suddenly not apply this year. If you find yourself feeling gutted by the notion that things won’t be the same this year, perhaps you can instead focus on embracing new changes however you can.
Albeit embracing change will be more difficult if it means spending less time with your kids, there are other aspects you can focus on – like not seeing in-laws you don’t enjoy or getting more time to see your own family than you’ve had in years. You might also find yourself free to catch up with old friends or participate in after-hours activities with your coworkers.
Find New Traditions to Start
There might be no better way to embrace the new changes that divorce presents than to create new, happy traditions out of them. If you are under a temporary child custody agreement, how you spend your time with your kids during the holidays matters more than ever, so why not create a new tradition together?
There are plenty of things you can do that perhaps your family hasn’t yet embraced, like taking walks to look at Christmas lights, binge-watching classic holiday movies, and baking yummy treats to enjoy. Your new tradition can come from whole cloth or be a variation on something familiar. Even if it’s walking in a different neighborhood, watching different movies, or making different treats, there’s always a way to start a new tradition!
Always Put Your Children’s Needs Above Your Own
Although you will need a lot of love and care this season, your children will always need more. No matter how old they are, you should expect the divorce to have a significant impact on their lives. Being mindful of that at all times and conducting yourself appropriately can help your children cope with inevitable, and inevitably painful, changes.
Always keep the conflict you have with your spouse away from your children and strive to reassure them that they are loved. Remember that a judge hasn’t ordered a permanent child custody or visitation order during this time, so how you treat your children – and their relationship with your spouse – matters when it comes to that issue as well.