If it's your first Christmas after your divorce and you are feeling sad or lonely or even angry, that's completely normal. Feelings often intensify around the holidays.
I remember my first Christmas after my divorce well. My ex and I didn't have a lot of conversation regarding how it was going to go. We didn't have a plan. Our divorce was still relatively new, and we were barely on speaking terms at the time.
I was overwhelmed by simple things like getting the tree and other decorations out of the basement without my ex to help.
No matter the circumstances, divorce is one of the most traumatic events you can go through in your adult life. The impact of divorce on your psyche could have you gearing up for a Christmas in the dumps. It t doesn’t have to be that way, though. Here’s how to make your first Christmas after divorce feel like something special again.
Even those who are not going through a divorce can have ridiculously high expectations for the holiday season, but your expectations may get even higher after a divorce. It’s important to remember that your holidays will likely be nothing like they were when you were married. Setting your expectations low for the holidays will allow you to be pleasantly surprised when things start getting better.
Try to get in the spirit of the holidays, but keep in mind that’s not everything, and you have the right to be a little Grinchy this year!
If your divorce involved kids, it’s likely a little messier than just going your separate ways. You’ve probably already realized you’re going to have to learn to co-parent (barring some circumstances). Good co-parenting becomes even more important at the holidays. Since this is your first Christmas after divorce, nobody expects you to host Christmas morning with your ex-spouse, it might be something you want to work toward. Splitting holidays can be extremely stressful for kids, so try to keep that in mind when planning Christmas with your ex. If you can get along and stand to be in the same room for a few hours, you might decide to do it for the sake of the kids.
If you have a court order that details holidays, it’s important to remember to follow that. Keep in mind, though, that most court orders have language in them that allow you and your ex-spouse to change things around if you both agree on it!
Related post: How to Help Your Children Cope with Divorce
Your first Christmas after a divorce is a great time to establish new traditions. It can feel empty to try to do the same things the way you usually do them without your ex. Think about how you could make this holiday special rather than focusing on what's missing.
If you always went on a holiday hayride with your ex or you enjoyed a piping hot drink while driving around looking at lights, it can be hard to let go of these traditions. If you have kids, you might choose to keep some of the old traditions, but make sure that you’re taking the time to make new ones. These new traditions can be something special that only you do, and they will allow you to make new memories and give your kids (and yourself) something to look forward to during the holiday season.
Have you dreamed of flying to the beach for the holidays? Or serving in a soup kitchen on Christmas Eve? If your spouse held you back from those things in the past, now’s the time to start doing them! Take your first Christmas after divorce as a time to do something you’ve always wanted to do but never could with your spouse in tow because of their opinions, family obligations, or other issues. Planning something like this in advance of the holidays will give you something to truly look forward to as Christmas draws nearer.
If you haven’t figured it out already, the holidays are the perfect time to lean into your family. Healthy family relationships take center stage as you deal with the ramifications of divorce. During your first Christmas after divorce, make sure you take time for family and spend a lot of your time with your loved ones. Your friends and family are your support system during this challenging time, so keep that in mind as you go through the holidays. You may even be able to start some new traditions when you start focusing on your loved ones again!
Sometimes, enjoying the holidays with your family means traveling. While you may not have a lot in your budget after divorce, the expenses of going to see family at the holidays are often worth it. Keep that in mind, when coming up with a plan for the holidays.
We all have those people in our lives that never have anything supportive to say. Steer clear of those folks on the first Christmas after your divorce. Give yourself time to feel stable and secure in your new situation.
Just because it’s your first Christmas after divorce doesn’t mean you have to give in to the holiday temptations! Don’t gorge yourself on Christmas cookies and put off your exercise routine because you’re too busy enjoying your Christmas. By keeping to your exercise and dietary routine throughout the holidays, you’ll continue feeling good about yourself, especially if you’ve been working really hard on your health since your divorce. While it’s acceptable to indulge in the occasional cookie and dessert at the holidays, stay aware of what you’re eating and make sure that you’re still trying to stay as healthy as possible.
Related post: 30 Journal Prompts to Help You Through Your Divorce
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