If you have embarked on the divorce process during the past year, you may by this time find yourself coasting along, finally having developed a system of shared parenting that works for you and your ex. Split custody often extends through and includes holidays that you once spent together as a family. Now single, it is likely you will have to celebrate a portion of these occasions on your own. And that may be upsetting for some. If you are struggling with how to enjoy the holidays while your children are with your ex, I have a few suggestions. Here they are.
1. Entertain. If you were once the host or hostess with the mostess, there is no reason you still cannot be, even if your children are with their other parent. If Thanksgiving dinner was once your shindig and your kids will not be with you that day, consider changing or adding to your traditional guest list to include other single friends who might be in a similar situation as you are. Likely they will be as grateful for the invitation as you will be for their company.
2. Visit. Accept hospitality from those who offer it. Chances are you will receive an invitation from a friend or family member asking you to join them in their holiday celebration or New Year’s Eve party. Though you may feel uncomfortable about going unaccompanied, try not to. If you are worried you won’t want to stay, tell them you will drop by for a while. Then actually do it. You may be pleasantly surprised and enjoy yourself. And if you are uncomfortable, you can exit while still being gracious.
3. Travel. Holiday time is a fantastic opportunity to get away. Whether you choose to go with a friend, family, or solo, you can take advantage of your free time to explore a new destination. If you are traveling alone, be sure to inquire whether other singles will be in the vicinity and whether there are additional charges for not going as a couple. Though individual travel can be extremely gratifying, spending time at a family-type destination can also be isolating. With so many options now available for traveling by yourself, a few minutes of investigation can mean the difference between an okay and a fabulous experience.
4. Volunteer. If you find yourself looking for ways to fill your time during the holidays, consider helping those who are in need. Depending on where you live, there are likely multiple opportunities for serving meals to and spending time with those less fortunate. There can be nothing more fulfilling than supporting someone else through a difficult time. If you are looking for places where you can be of assistance, try reaching out to local houses of worship for suggestions so they can direct you further.
5. Include. If you are on good terms with your ex, perhaps include them in your holiday plans, at least for part of the time. That way your soon-to-be ex-spouse and your children will not feel as though they are missing out on these special moments. If you are not capable of being civil, do not invite them. You never want your children to associate holiday time with divorce and acrimony. That is, unfortunately, a gift that keeps on giving.
6. Reschedule. Who is to say that we can only celebrate important holidays on their exact calendar day? If you do not have your children this Thanksgiving, for example, consider preparing a celebratory dinner either the night before or the night after. Brunch on the following Sunday morning is also a fun time to commemorate the spirit of a holiday. We can celebrate any holiday in this manner. Creativity and flexibility are essential.
However you choose to spend the holidays, it is important to remember why we celebrate them at all. Keep in mind that if your heart is in the right place, can you can never go wrong.