Recently, we discussed how parents can make the holidays happier for their children after divorce. But what about your own happiness during the holidays? Even parents who split custody over the holidays evenly can find themselves depressed that they may not have their kids on Thanksgiving Day or on Christmas Eve. If your co-parent has them for an extended stretch over winter break, it can be even more difficult.
One of the best ways to ward off sadness about the end-of-year holidays is to make plans for the time your kids won’t be around. By having a plan for those days, you can be more enthusiastic about what they’ll be doing and happy to listen to their stories when they return.
Ideas for those days when your kids are with your ex
You could arrange a “Friendsgiving” or a Christmas brunch or dinner with friends. For many people, volunteering in the community on those holidays can put their own problems in perspective and help them feel needed. If you have family members you don’t see much during the year, see if they’d like some company. If you have a divorce support group or just a group of friends you turn to for advice and reassurance, make extra time for them.
If you’re perfectly happy being alone, plan some things to do around the house or on your own. Maybe there are some closets that need cleaning out. Perhaps it’s been a while since you dove into a book.
Just because you may be spending a holiday alone, that doesn’t mean you can’t carry on with the rituals that bring you comfort. If you decide not to decorate for the holidays or watch all your favorite holiday movies because your kids won’t be there, you’ll likely just feel sadder.
If you find that the holiday custody schedule you negotiated with your co-parent really isn’t working for your kids –- not just for you — you may want to consider seeking a modification before next year’s holiday season rolls around.