Some people prefer to avoid festivities this time of year, while others fill calendars with family dinners, work parties, religious services and perhaps a visit with Santa. Whatever your schedule looks like this year, it may look very different from previous years if you recently divorced.
Whether that change upsets or excites you, navigating the holidays for the first time after divorce can be difficult. To overcome these challenges, consider the following suggestions.
Review your agreements
It’s not just Santa who should double-check his records: You should, too, if you share custody of your children. When you created a parenting plan, you likely decided custody of your children during the holidays. Review these plans and make sure you know about any changes in the schedule.
This article has other helpful tips for parenting during the holidays after divorce.
Set a budget
Travel, gifts, grocery shopping for a party, and sending holiday cards add up, so it is wise to set and stick to a budget. Even if you plan to spend the same amount you spend every year, you likely have a different financial standing this year.
Factor in support payments, new bills, and your adjusted monthly income to ensure you do not overspend.
Take care of yourself
People might feel depressed, lonely or hopeless after divorce, which only adds to the stress of the holidays. Even if these difficult feelings are fleeting, don’t ignore your needs. Take care of yourself by spending time with people you love. Seek out healthy outlets, instead of overindulging in food or alcohol. Treat yourself to a gift. Be patient with yourself, and focus on doing things that make you feel good.
If you anticipate that certain days will be harder than others, like spending Christmas morning without your children, make plans to do something else you enjoy.
Focus on what’s new
Yes, this year may be very different from previous years. However, that does not have to be a bad thing. You can start your own traditions. You can spend time with your friends instead of having to go to an in-law’s house. You can decorate how you want — or you might not decorate at all. These are decisions you can make for yourself, which can be surprisingly refreshing.
The holidays can be stressful for newly-divorced people, but remembering these suggestions can make them a little easier.