Holidays, after divorce, can trigger such incredible waves of sadness because they are the painful reminder of how things used to be when you were a family unit. And the first holiday without your children can be especially painful and depressing because, since becoming a parent, the holidays have probably mostly revolved around your kids. So, how are we supposed to cope with spending this holiday alone for the first time?
Well for starters, know that you will survive it, and it will get better.
Also, don't be alone! Hang out with some friends or family to keep you busy so you can best fight off the holiday blues.
I had a girlfriend who decided she wanted nothing to do with the holidays after she first divorced. She rejected all invitations, including mine, and insisted that being alone was what she needed. So, she went on a rampage at the supermarket and bought all kinds of booze, ice cream, and other "comfort" foods... Needless today, she had a hangover and stomach issues for several days after, and she found herself even more depressed than before.
So, please, I suggest avoiding this kind of scenario during your first holiday without your children. Instead, here are 6 tips you can do to get through the holidays without your children:
First - Acknowledge your emotions and talk with someone about them. Whether it’s a close friend, a family member, or a professional. You shouldn’t have to bear your feelings alone. This will help take a little air out of the emotional bubble which will help you be more capable of sharing a little holiday excitement with your children, despite them not spending them with you this holiday.
Second - Don’t isolate yourself. Remember staying home alone will keep you reaching for negative behavior like torturing yourself with guilt, going through all the “what ifs,” eating a quart of ice cream or drinking yourself silly. It’s so much better for you to spend the holidays with loved ones who care for you and support you. Friends and family whom you could really be yourself with. And you can’t spend it with friends and family, -volunteer.
There are plenty of volunteering opportunities during the holiday season. Some include,
preparing care packages for our troops overseas, serving soup at your local homeless shelter, for instance. These would be great activities because it would help you get perspective and gratefulness for what you still have and it greatly helps those who really need you. So, check out the soup kitchens in your area or other community centers. Keep in mind that many of these organizations require registration in advance, so make sure to call ahead.
Third -Keep your best holiday face on. Remember the divorce is between you & your former spouse so leave your kids out of it. Don’t be depressed and sad around them as they are getting ready to go to your ex-spouse's house. Instead, tell them you are going to miss them, but are going to relax or spend time with friends, (whatever you can do and say to take the anxiety of them). Remember, you are their parent, and they love and worry about you too. Try and show some cheer for the kid’s sake since this will be a very big adjustment for them as well.
Fourth - Treat yourself! One of the perks of having a kid-free holiday is that you can do all those adult things you haven't been able to do before! Whether it’s putting your warmest and coziest socks on and watching a great chick flick, running a long, hot, scented bubble bath with candles and a glass of wine, going for a mani/pedi- or whatever makes you smile, do it! Treat yourself to it. You deserve it! Just make sure to get some much-needed rest as well. No need to be a martyr. Making self-care a priority will help you during this time. It will also help you be better prepared physically and mentally when you kids return.
Fifth - Plan a new holiday tradition. No reason why you can't extend the holidays! Make it a point to celebrate the holidays with your kids when they return by doing something special together. Cook a nice dinner together, bake a few treats, make a craft, or have a pajama/pizza party and movie night! Make up your own new, fun tradition when they return. This will give you something fun and positive to look forward to and give your children something exciting to look forward to as well.
Lastly, take care of yourself. During any painful period of your life, it’s really important to take good care of yourself, both physically and mentally. Eat healthy foods, hit the gym or go for a run. Take walks in nature or meditate- or even better, do both. Avoid anesthetizing yourself with drinking, binging, or other unhealthy things you may have done in the past to try to feel better. Grab dinner or watch a movie with a friend instead. Focus on finding gratitude by looking around, writing in your journal, sharing good food with friends, taking time in observing nature, and making the holidays special for your children -despite things being different now.
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