When you and your co-parent worked out your custody schedule, splitting the end-of-year holidays seemed fair. One of you has the kids for Thanksgiving and the other for Christmas. Or maybe you’re alternating years where one of you has them for both holidays.
Now that they’re getting closer, you’re starting to dread your first Thanksgiving, Christmas or whichever end-of-year holidays you celebrate without your children. The first holidays after separation or divorce can be particularly difficult for anyone – but especially for parents. Too many people cope by shutting themselves in their homes and drowning their sorrows in alcohol, food and Netflix.
Not only is that unhealthy for you, but it’s likely going to have a negative effect on your kids. They’ll see that you’re miserable and probably feel guilty for having fun with their other parent. It also won’t put you in the best frame of mind for the time you do get to spend with them.
You don’t have to plan a trip to Europe. If you don’t want to be home alone on Thanksgiving and your family is scattered around the country, find out what your single friends or doing. “Friendsgiving” is becoming increasingly popular. You might also want to wrangle an invitation to a friend’s house – even a married couple who may appreciate having someone else to talk to.
There are plenty of volunteer opportunities on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. You might choose to help out at a local homeless shelter or animal rescue group. Doing something unselfish is a good way to forget your own problems and feel better about yourself.
Just having a plan for the holidays can help you feel better. That way, when your kids ask you what you’re doing, you can assure them that you’ll be just fine. Plus, you’ll have stories to exchange with them when they return.
Finally, put your divorce aside for the holidays. Chances are that even if you’re in the middle of the process, you’ll have at least a few days with no attorney meetings or court dates. Take this time to clear your head. It may even help you have a clearer perspective on what your goals are for this new phase of your life.