During the holidays, many people are full of good cheer and planning elaborate family gatherings. However, if you’re currently going through a divorce or recently went through one, you may not be feeling the holiday spirit. The first holidays alone can be a painful reminder of what was and what will never be again. However, if you have children, it’s especially important to try to put your own feelings aside and make the most of the holiday season for them. Although there isn’t a magic cure for your holiday blues, there are many ways to make it easier to cope.
1. Set a Holiday Visitation Schedule
Children of divorce go through many changes and it’s your job to make this this transition as easy as possible. Make sure your visitation schedule outlines when the children will be with you on holidays and when they’ll be with your ex. If you’re newly separated and don’t have a visitation schedule yet, discuss it with your ex and get a schedule set immediately. If you can’t agree on a schedule, ask the judge to decide on one. While Virginia courts don’t have a “standard” visitation schedule, it does determine appropriate visitation based on several factors, the most important of which are what’s in the best interests of the child, while still allowing both parents frequent, continuing contact.
If it’s not your holiday, then make plans to celebrate on a different day. It doesn’t have to be Christmas Day to open presents or Thanksgiving Day to have a turkey dinner with your family. In your newly single life, compromise and flexibility will be critical.
2. Embrace the Holiday Spirit
Even if you’re not feeling particularly jolly, try to get into the holiday spirit for your kids’ sake. Take them shopping and let them buy something for their mom, if they’d like. Make sure they invite her to any school holiday activities and be civil to her at the events. No matter how you feel towards her, she’s still the mother of your children. Establishing a cordial relationship is good for the children and can make dealing with her a bit easier. By focusing on your kids’ happiness and making things fun for them, it could rub off and you may find yourself partaking in some of their holiday delight!
3. Create New Family Traditions
With your new, separate life comes the opportunity to establish new rituals and ditch some of the ones you never enjoyed. While you want to reassure your kids that holiday celebrations will continue, explain that they will be different. You don’t want to try to re-create the way the holidays used to be before the divorce; that’s an impossible task that can be painful for everyone.
Of course, that doesn’t mean your holidays can’t be just as great. If there were things you always did when you were married that you didn’t particularly like doing, then don’t do them! Replace them with things you’ve always wanted to do or indulge in the things you’ve always loved doing, but didn’t have time to fully enjoy. Establishing new holiday traditions can also serve to break from the past and help you to embrace a new future.
4. Take Care of Yourself
You want to work cooperatively with your ex for your kids, but don’t forget to also take care of yourself during particularly tough holiday times. Don’t just sit at home moping where you’ll be tempted to over-analyze your situation. You shouldn’t spend your first holidays alone, especially if your kids are with your ex. While you may need some alone time, it’s important to spend time with friends. Don’t shy away from holiday parties, because celebrating with others could actually cheer you up. At the same time, don’t try to numb your pain with alcohol or drugs—these will only make your depression worse.
Also, try to steer clear of naysayers who don’t have a kind word to say about anything or anyone. They might even be the type to say, “I told you so” about your breakup or think helping you is rehashing all the reasons why your ex was bad for you or why your relationship didn’t work out. Instead surround yourself with upbeat people who are more interested in welcoming the future than dissecting the past.
Your first set of post-breakup holidays is bound to be a little tough and even a bit overwhelming. Just remember to take one step at a time. Try to see your divorce as a new beginning that starts by establishing your first new holiday tradition.
At The Firm For Men, our experienced attorneys understand how important a visitation schedule is in helping prevent potential disagreements and complications during the hectic holiday season. We’re dedicated to protecting father’s rights and can help you come to a visitation resolution with your former spouse. Give us a call at 757-383-9184 to see what we can do for you – we’ve been serving Virginia Beach and the surrounding areas for over ten years and have earned a reputation as attorneys Hampton Roads can trust!