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.
To the Father of My Children, My Partner in Parenting:
I know that I haven't always been grateful. And I know that there was a time in our lives when I could not think of a nice thing to say to you. There was a time when I was filled with so much hurt and anger that gratitude felt like an impossible idea. But that time has passed.
We've had our moments - but we had a lot of good times, too. For more than ten years, you were there for me. You were there for me in the dark hours when my dad was sick, and you were there for me when my father passed away. For that, I am grateful.
You were also there for wonderful memories. We went on trips together, and we grew up together in a lot of ways. We explored new faith communities together. We shared a life together, and for that, I am grateful.
Together, you and I created an incredible family. Words cannot even begin to describe the depth of my gratitude for that....
One of the hardest things to do as a divorced parent is to encourage your kids to go with your ex when they don’t want to. However, consistency is key to making those transitions easier over time. When my ex and I first separated, my youngest was a toddler. We all know how toddlers act when they're not happy. He would throw a tantrum every time he had to transition between our homes. It used to break my heart the way that he would cry and fuss.
As long as the kids aren’t avoiding going due to neglect or abuse, it's your job to encourage them to. Some children don’t do well with change, so the transition between households can be especially difficult. Keep in mind that it doesn't have anything to do with the other parent. You'll be doing your children a favor if you work to make transitioning as smooth as possible.
Use the following tips to encourage your children when...
Looking for FAFSA tips for divorced parents? In many of my divorce cases, how college expenses will be handled is an issue that needs to be addressed. It's common for parents to wait to divorce until their children are teenagers or young adults. This tends to be around the same time that people are preparing to send their children to college. Unfortunately, many are unprepared for the future higher education expenses.
Applying for and paying for college can be very stressful for many parents. Co-parenting is hard enough without the stress of supporting your kids through the college application process. Often, divorce settlements don't detail how college expenses will be handled. It's outside of the jurisdiction of many states' domestic relations courts. If college expenses are detailed in the agreement, they're often vague with limited concern around the details adding additional stress.
Enter the FAFSA. FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal...
With three school-age children, I'll be honest. I dread the beginning-of-the-school-year paperwork. There is so much new information coming at me and lots to remember - not to mention the mountain of forms I always spend the first few days of the school year filling out. If you are sharing parenting responsibilities with your Ex, it takes teamwork for a smooth transition into the new year. Here are some tips for success.
Work with your co-parent to create a transition plan from the summer schedule to the routine for the school year. In our house, we let the kids stay up a little later and sleep in a little later during the summer. About a week before school starts, we start returning the kids to their normal school sleep schedule. That way, they are well-rested for the first day of school. It's a simple thing but it makes our mornings before school go much smoother.
If possible, I recommend...
Talking to your children about divorce isn't easy, especially when you are still processing your own feelings. Sometimes using books that are designed to guide the conversation can be helpful. Here is a list of age-appropriate children's books about divorce. Click on the picture of the book to find it on Amazon.
Koko is a preschool-aged bear whose parents are getting divorced. Koko is very upset. The book is designed to be read by parents to their children and help them talk about how they're feeling. It reassures children that their parents still love them regardless of the changes happening in their family.
Dinah is scared. Mama and Daddy Bear are getting a divorce. Daddy is moving out and she's not sure when she'll get to see him again. This sweet book doesn't go into details about divorce, but helps acknowledge that there are big feelings involved for kids.
This book focuses on...
When I got divorced, I had three children between the ages of three and eight. I remember the stress. I was overwhelmed thinking about how I was going to help my kids get through the divorce and ultimately, how I would manage on my own.
It can be scary to think about how you'll take care of your children after a divorce. There will be many changes on the horizon for everyone. You have to be confident that you can take care of them, even if you have to turn to friends and family members for emotional and financial support. It's also important to remember that taking care of your own needs is vital as you're not going to be able to care for your children if you aren’t taking care of yourself.
Don’t be too stubborn to take advantage of the help that is offered. I don't know what I would've done without my mom's support. I am very fortunate that she lives close by. She listened to me...
There are several reasons that parents come in for mediation after a divorce is over. A big one is parenting expenses. The reality is if you get divorced when your children are young, it's hard to know what kind of extracurricular activities they will become involved with over the years or even if they will develop chronic health issues.
It's really impossible to negotiate every possible scenario. However, it is crucial to discuss at least a baseline for how you’ll divide those parenting expenses after divorce and effectively communicate as well.
Add parenting expenses to the divorce agreement. Under the best-case scenario, you will have thoroughly discussed the division of expenses, so both of you know what to expect. You’ll want to be aware of expenses including school tuition, lunches, medical bills and insurance,...
That's right. I said it. My key to co-parenting success with my ex is not "putting my children first," as so many professionals recommend.
I remember the first year of co-parenting well. I would describe it as a complete failure and excruciating. My youngest son was three years old. Every time he had to go between my home and my ex's, he would have a complete meltdown. I felt like my heart was being torn out of my chest.
My ex wanted to be the fun parent so he would sugar them up and let them stay up late. We have three kids. At the time, they were 3, 6, and 7. When they came home, they were exhausted and cranky from lack of sleep. Then I had to be the bad guy and send them to bed early.
To say that I was aggravated with my ex would be an understatement. In fairness, I wasn't innocent. He was pretty angry with me, too. I had recoupled very quickly after our divorce. He was hurt and uncomfortable with the situation and wanted to make sure I knew it.
Dealing with a divorce is difficult no matter the time of year but dealing with divorce over the holidays compounds the stress. It means more time with family who may or may not be on board with this significant change in your life. It means hearing opinions that you did not ask for even though they may mean well. It could also mean missing out on some traditions you love.
From someone who has been there, all I can say is that is does get easier. The first holiday season either during and/or just following your separation/divorce is by far the hardest.
Recognize that it's a difficult time of year and take extra good care of yourself. Eat well, get exercise, and make sure you are getting adequate sleep. All of these things will put you in a better position to deal with the stress.
I know that at the holidays we often think more about...