Ingredients: managed expectations, sensitivity, self-care and gratitude.
The holidays are usually a time to feel overloaded and under-appreciated. That is especially true of people going through a separation or divorce. Advance planning, finesse and flexibility are required to make the holidays a more joyful time for yourself and your children.
Let’s take the first ingredient – managed expectations. This includes your own. If you are constantly comparing this year’s holidays with holidays past when times perhaps were happier and calmer, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. If you’re not particularly in the holiday spirit, give yourself permission to forego some of the festivities, where possible. Just let the hosts know in advance.
When children are involved, it’s important to prepare them in advance. Discuss plans, including where they’ll be spending the holidays, and in the case of older children, give them a say. Then, don’t deviate from those plans unexpectedly. The same holds true for gift-giving: Let the kids know you’ve got a budget, then stick to it. Promising them gifts you cannot afford won’t soften the blow of the divorce and will only put you in a financial hole. If you’ll be spending the holiday with your former spouse, make it clear to your kids this in no way signals you’re getting back together, but that you both still want to enjoy the holidays with them.
Read the rest of Barbara’s article for more strategies to have happier holidays.