We know that Christmas / New Years / the summer holidays can be a horrific time when you are in the middle of your separation and divorce. What was once a wonderful holiday may now be tinged (or scorched) with conflict. Or you might be alone on Christmas Eve – or Christmas Day – or feel lost when you think about being alone for weeks during the summer holidays.
And the financial burden of being a single parent may also be hitting home during this expensive season.
We believe that with a bit of reframing and planning – Christmas and the silly season does not have to be something that needs to be endured.
Here are our tips for making it through and – bizarrely – even finding some joy – during the Christmas season and summer holidays.
1. Make Christmas about the Children
This is true whether you have children or not. Understandably you may be fighting with the ex over who has the children when – and who is buying what for whom and who is going where.
Remember though the biggest gift you can give your children this year is to shield them – as far as is humanly possible – from any angst, conflict or grief that you might be experiencing.
If you are stretched on the money side of things – remember what kids really love is time and attention. So use the time to sit down with them and play with them with whatever they receive – learn how to play that new Battleship game or make that art and craft ballerina with your daughter. Play cards, do a summer puzzle or get out on the street and kick that soccer ball.
We have also found that the best Christmases are ones when you have started your own new family Christmas tradition: whether that be all wearing Santa hats for pancake breakfast (or as my kids – like green and red jelly brekkie), taking crazy Christmas photo each year, or volunteering at the local Salvos Christmas lunch. Kids can have great ideas for traditions (see above green and red jelly breakfast which was certainly not my idea) so engage them if you can.
Enjoy the fact that this year Christmas is your time – and that you can make decisions about how you want to celebrate the day or holidays.
And if you don’t have the kids on Christmas Day – celebrate when you do have them. Christmas and Santa can come at any time.
2. Try to Accept that Christmas – while different this year – still has the potential to be good.
As you are probably finding during this journey, divorce can be the worst of times – but also the best. Grab and cherish those special moments when you are feeling good. Be mindful of the laughter shared of the bad Christmas joke told by your uncle at Christmas lunch – or the smiles of the kids unwrapping presents – or the beauty of the Christmas lights down the street.
Finally many of us have a renewed appreciation for family and friends during divorce – and especially those who have been your rock/s. So take the opportunity this Christmas to thank all of those around you who have helped you through the year.
Remember: holding onto the good moments will help you grow stronger. Be grateful for the good.
3. Make sure you are doing something YOU want to do on your time off
We know – it is always a challenge to know how to spend the week/s off from your children over the summer holidays. Shall you catch up on work/housework, or socialize?
We have one thing to say to you: whatever you do – do something for you.
If money is tight, you don’t need to go away – we suggest that you use this time to find a new or renew an old passion or interest. That photography trip that you wanted to do – or that yoga, sewing, golf, quilting or scuba diving course. If it is too late to book now – learn your lesson and make sure you book for next year (or next holiday).
If at home, spend some time on you – watch your favourite movies, get your itunes account sorted – or find a new book.
Catch up on some sleep.
Rest but revitalize.
If you are lucky enough to be able to travel, don’t worry if you have to travel alone. There are many places and tours that cater for single people – all it takes is Google, a little organization – and some courage. We know the first time may be confronting – but we are confident you will get the hang of it!!
At the end of the day, Christmas is just another day and will pass.
We hope that these tips might help you find this Christmas season a little merrier.
We will be thinking of you.