The holidays are a daunting time for anyone, particularly when you’re newly separated or divorced and your children are on a new visiting schedule that never existed before.
Be flexible and set reasonable expectations. Be happy with the time you’re given. If you can’t spend Christmas day with your children, but can see them the 26th, 27th, or perhaps New Year’s Day, it’s important to find a way to be content with that. Society bombards us with unrealistic images of the perfect “Hallmark Christmas,” but the truth of the matter is even your traditional, happy family units don’t live up to those expectations. The holidays are never going to be perfect, so you have to take full advantage of the time you do have with your children. Remember that December 25th is not a magical day in your kids’ eyes. You may have the opportunity to start new family traditions. As long as you make your time with them special, they won’t care if it’s their “second Christmas” so to speak. They’ll love every moment they get to spend with you.
Make the time about your children. Even if you’re feeling badly about the situation, try not to take that sadness or anger out on your kids. Placing blame or burden on your children is never a good choice because at the end of the day, it’s not their fault. Make the time you have together quality time. Be present when you are with them.
When your children are grown up they’ll always remember the experiences you did with them more than the materialistic things you bought them.
Send a gift. However, if you are not granted the opportunity to see your kids at all during the holidays, you should absolutely still send them a gift. Include a card that lets them know you love them and are thinking of them even if you can’t be together. Take a photo of the gift and the card that you send, in case the gift gets lost in the mail, or in case there is any animosity between you and your ex-wife or ex-husband. That way, if the present and card do not get to your kids, you’ll know and can address the situation at a later time.
Do something for you. The holidays are a hectic, stressful time and the expectations we place on ourselves are ridiculously overwhelming. Remember to take care of yourself during this time and be kind to yourself. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, exercising, and take time to visit friends or other family members. There are also so many activities and give back organizations to get involved with during the holidays. Whether it’s helping with a toy drive, serving in a meal line, or volunteering at a local animal shelter, doing good for others will take your mind off your situation and make you feel good during this troubled time.
Never give up. For newly divorced parents there is always going to be a transitional period when you’re setting up a new holiday schedule for your kids. Even if you can’t spend the holidays with your children this year, it is so important to stay in contact with them. Let them know you’re thinking about them and love them. If they’re not responding to you, you must still persist. Although the rejection is a tough pill to swallow, when they do finally reach out, you’ll want to be there to accept them with open arms. An optimistic mindset is key – if not for you, then for your kids’ sake.
With 40 years of experience in family law, we hope this advice from experienced, Florida Board Certified in Marital and Family Law attorney, Charles D. Jamieson, Esq. offers some relief and provides a game plan to make the most of this holiday season – with or without your children.