Surviving the holidays post-divorce
For the divorced, holidays can be hell: splitting the kids up during vacation, no money to buy presents, loneliness, rejection, anger, depression and much more.
Last night, I was chatting with an on-again-off-again current ex, and my holiday SAD syndrome set in. A friend recently told me she wished she could just take a pill and wake up in January. There's nothing like the holiday blues, especially for those recently divorced. Survive the season with these tips:
Remember this is not the last Christmas
If you recently got divorced, then stop thinking of this year as the last Christmas. This one will be tough and it will bitterly disappoint — no doubt about it. So stack it up in your mind against all the wonderful past Christmases and the beautiful ones to come.
Give yourself permission to step back
You do not have to send cards this year; you do not have to bake a fruitcake, hand-sew the kids' Christmas play costumes or invite the neighbors over for the cookie party you hold every year. Don't have money for gifts? Try writing short letters of love to those who matter. Don't even have energy for that? Then tell your family and friends you're taking a break this year and to look for you again next year when things are better. If they love you, they'll understand.
Avoid holiday parties if you want
If going to a family or friend's get-together will help you feel better, then go! Put on something nice and enjoy the event. But if celebrating makes you sick to your stomach or anxious in any way, stay home. Forget what others might think. Don't tap-dance to everyone else's tune because it will only wear you out. This post-divorce period is time to take care of yourself and it's OK to be selfish.
Get the kids involved
If your ex-spouse is no longer there to bake cookies or put up the tree — and you feel you must have those this year — then recruit the kids. Let them make a mess and let them help clean up. Working together on fun projects is what really makes the memory and not just the results.
Get some rest
Life is stressful. The holidays double the stress. Add divorce to the mix and you have a nuclear cocktail. Your emotions will drain you physically so get plenty of rest. If you just don't have the energy or will to put effort into the holiday, ask for help. Maybe your Dad can take the kids ice skating or your neighbor can take them to the new Tintin or Chipmunk movies while you take a long winter's nap. A rested parent is a happier parent. Divorced or not!