Being a divorced/separated parent usually means you will end up spending the holidays without your children sometimes. For some parents this is a blessing and for others it is a curse.
If it is a curse, I could tell you it gets easier over time but for some parents it never gets easy. There are some things you can do that might make it easier if you are having a really difficult time.
If you are one of those parents who finds it a blessing or has no problem with the kids being gone…don’t worry you are fine. Some parents adapt very easily whereas others don’t. You don’t need to feel guilty or beat yourself up because you are fine with the children being gone.
Following are some tips that can help you get through the holidays without your children. You might find that you could actually enjoy the time apart and find even more ways to connect with your children when they return.
This is the “experts” solution and if you can do it then wonderful for you. However many parents can’t come together in this fashion so don’t feel bad if you can’t. It is not always easy to spend time with your ex and at the holidays you then have other family members around as well making things more difficult.
The “experts” always recommend you strive for this holiday time together scenario but I have yet to meet many parents who actually do it in real life. I have on occasion invited my ex over when he is going to be completely alone without any family or friends but I believe that has only happened twice in the 12 years we have been doing this.
If you can work it out then give it a try. I am not sure how this is beneficial to the children it seems this is more beneficial for the parents. The “experts” always say it should be all about the children so if you know why this is beneficial please drop me an email and let me know. It seems like it could raise some false hopes or maybe disillusion children who don’t understand why you got divorced in the first place.
Your children should be told well in advanced where they will be spending the holidays. Especially with older children who might make plans over the time they are out of school during the holiday. Encourage them to enjoy the holiday with the other parent. Don’t tell your children you will be all alone or depressed or distraught while they are away. It is ok to tell them you will miss them and be thinking of them but keep it to a minimum. You might find that you will be able to take comfort in their excitement and enjoyment of spending time with the other parent for the holiday.
Give yourself something to look forward to with your children. Make plans for how you will celebrate the holiday when the children return. It doesn’t have to be a grand celebration just something for you and your children. You will be creating a holiday tradition that becomes a special and meaningful part of your lives.
I decided long ago not to give my children two of everything just because I got divorced. I worked out a plan with the father where we switch off every other year. Christmas for example is only celebrated once a year. In the odd years my ex plans a big family Christmas with his family and I plan a small meaningful one with just my son. My son gets the majority of his presents at the big family Christmas and just one or two smaller things at the small one. In even years we switch and I do the big family Christmas with my family and the children and my ex does a small one. Kids don’t need to have two huge family celebrations for every holiday. What you do is up to you but this has worked for us and kept the families happy for many years.
Instead of focusing on how “alone” you will be…focus on what you could be doing for yourself. As a single parent and if you are the custodial parent, you will find you don’t have a lot of free time to do things just for you. Take advantage of the time they are away and do something for yourself that you don’t ordinarily have time for. For me it was long baths and taking naps whenever I felt like it. I also took small trips. I also made plans and spent time with friends. These are things that I couldn’t always do, at least without interruption, when the children are present.
This doesn’t have to be a time of distress and depression. All the self-help books make it seem like you should just be in tears and inconsolable because your children are gone for the holiday. The reality is the children are gone for the holiday but they are coming right back. There is no rule that says a holiday can only be celebrated on the official holiday date. You will still be spending the holiday with your child just in a different fashion now. Don’t fall into this stereo-type of a parent who just has no reason to exist if their child is not right by their side.
Go to a party, hang out with friends, stay home alone and read a good book the list is endless. Do something you wouldn’t ordinarily have time to do when the children are home. You will find that the time goes by quicker than just sitting around waiting for the children to return. You might also find that you are recharged, less stressed and are able to enjoy the time you do spend with your children.
Whatever you do…enjoy your time. Don’t feel bad or guilty or let anyone else make you feel that way. You are more than just a mom or dad you are a person as well. You are allowed to step out of the mom/dad role when the kids are away and just enjoy being an adult on your own.
The holiday should be a time to look forward to whether your children will be there or be away. Just remember that this is a perfect time for you to recharge and have a break. Only you can make getting through the holiday easy or hard. If you want it to be a curse then you will make it one. Instead try to make it a blessing.