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Surviving the Holidays Post-Divorce

With fall officially upon us, many of us are already planning for the holidays. Just the hint of fall gets many people in the holiday spirit, from Thanksgiving through the New Year, but how do you handle the holidays when you’re either in the midst of a divorce, or you’ve just gone through a divorce?

Custody Issues

If you’re in the midst of a divorce and you share children with your soon-to-be-former spouse, it’s important to begin considering the holidays now. You need to be able to work to come to some sort of custody agreement that specifically addresses various holidays.

There are a number of options, from alternating holidays each year, to splitting up the day into separate chunks, or if you’re feeling particularly amicable, perhaps your entire family, including both spouses will get together for the holidays.

Regardless of the agreement you think is going to work, speak with your divorce lawyer and make sure it’s something that becomes official, since emotions tend to run high during the holidays and verbal agreements may quickly be forgotten.

If you’ve already finalized your divorce, ensure you’re clear on what agreement you and your spouse have come to regarding holiday custody, so you’re not surprised or blindsided if you’ve forgotten the details.

If you do share children, it’s also important to try and minimize conflict amongst your family during the holidays. Don’t try to outdo one another with the gifts you give your children, and try to keep things as calm and seamless as possible.

Embrace New Traditions

Once you’ve gone through a divorce you may find yourself desperately clinging to your former holiday traditions, but these simply may not work anymore.

After a divorce, think of it as a fresh start and create new traditions that you can enjoy on the holidays.

If you try to hold on to the past and the way things were, you’re going to find yourself disappointed and in the midst of emotional turmoil.

Busy Your Mind

If you don’t have your children during a holiday and you find yourself feeling lonely or even distraught, consider doing an activity that can take your mind off your new situation.

Many newly divorced people find doing something like volunteering during the holidays can help them better manage their feelings and even find a sense of gratitude in the midst of a difficult time in their lives.

Another good idea, if you have the money available, is to take a trip during the holidays. You can visit friends that live out of town, or even plan an exciting getaway to somewhere tropical, or a big city you would love to visit. It’s a great distraction and can help pull you away from the negative thoughts of being alone on the holidays.

Finally, a great tip for dealing with the holidays is to avoid distancing yourself from other people. Even if you’re not with your former spouse or your children, spend as much time as you can with friends and other family member. 

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