How to Help Kids Cope with the Holidays After Separation or Divorce

Getting through the holidays as a separated or divorced couple is difficult.  What makes this even more difficult is when children are involved. Divorce can be particularly hard on kids because they have to deal with two houses, two schedules, two sides of the family, or perhaps even blended families or new relationships.  People often say that kids are resilient and will be able to bounce back from situations like this quickly.  This is often said so that the parties involved feel better, but in many cases, this cannot be further from the truth. If you and your ex are having a difficult time, it is that much harder for a child.

It is crucial that you and your ex come together to develop a plan to ease the anxiety of the holiday season on your children. Ask yourself “What is truly best for the kids?” Put aside your differences and put forth 100% effort into co-parenting. Your kids will pick up on the attitude that you have towards your ex.  Showing them that you can be amicable will give them the hope that mom and dad can still be friends.

Decisions that You and Your Ex Will Be Faced with Include:

  • How much time will be spent with each parent?
  • Who will spend Christmas Eve / Christmas Day / Boxing Day / New Year’s etc. with the children?
  • Who will be buying which gifts? When will the gifts be given? Will you take your child shopping to buy a gift for your ex, and vice versa?
  • If one parent wants to leave town for the holidays, will the children accompany them?
  • How much time will the child be able to spend with friends over the holidays? (This can be especially important for older children, as time with friends can act as a great stress reliever.)

These are not the types of decisions that should be “played by ear”.  It is also a good idea to not over-do it during the holidays with visiting too many friend and family homes.  Less busy = less stress.  Instead, focus more on strengthening the relationships that you have with your children and make them feel secure.

It’s important to sit down together with your children to discuss the holiday schedule.  Emphasize that it will still be a joyous time – it will just be different.  This way, children don’t have to feel guilty for being happy when they are with one parent and not the other.  Ask them how they feel about what you have decided.  Be welcoming to their feelings, concerns, and suggestions.

Anticipate that they will have a variety of emotions.  It will help a lot if you and your ex maintain a unified front and reassure them of your love for them.  It is okay to express to them that you are sad as well because you understand that divorce is very painful.

In some cases, you and your ex may get along well enough to spend the holidays together. This can really help the kids when there is only one family gathering to attend.  However, should there be the slightest risk of conflict, this should be avoided.  You would also want to be clear that just because mom and dad are spending the holidays together, this does not mean that they are staying together. You want to avoid giving children any sense of false hope.

Find ways to replace the happy times of past holidays with new memories.  Most importantly, kids need to feel that life will go on and everything will be okay. Plus, if this is the first year after a separation or divorce, it will make subsequent years that much easier to cope with if handled well this time around.

Questions about how professionals can help separated or divorced clients get through the holidays in peace? Contact Rahul at Clean Divorce – serving clients in Vancouver, New Westminster, and surrounding areas.

8 Ways to Get Through the Holidays After Separation and Divorce

To many, the holidays are a very stressful time of year.  Add divorce into the equation and it can become a time that some people dread and want to avoid altogether.  After a separation or divorce, the holidays can serve as a constant reminder of happier times and amplify the loneliness and sadness that one may be feeling.

Here are some ways in which you may be able to relieve some of this holiday anxiety:

(1) Plan a Vacation – This may be the perfect time to get away without having painful reminders close by.  It is usually much easier to take time off from work during the holiday season. A vacation can recharge you, enable you to have new experiences, and meet new people.  It may just help you gain a better perspective of your situation once you remove yourself from your everyday surroundings.

(2) Set Goals – Make a list of things you want to accomplish over the holidays while you have more free time.  Keeping busy is a great way to keep your mind off of your troubles, and can also give you a sense of accomplishment when you complete the tasks on your to-do list.  You may have been putting some things off, and this can be the ideal time to take things off your plate and feel less stressed.

(3) Schedule “Me Time” – The importance of self-care cannot be emphasized enough. What are your favorite activities to do for relaxation?  Things like going to the spa, seeing a movie, taking up a new creative hobby, and reading a good book (all without your cell phone on) can help you relax and rejuvenate.

(4) Exercise – Even if you don’t feel like you have the energy to even think about going to the gym or taking a fitness class, it can do wonders for your mental and physical health. It is a great way to boost your confidence too!

(5) Eat Healthy & Avoid Alcohol – Eating healthy is not only great for your body, but it will enable you to get results much quicker from your time at the gym.  During the holidays, it is so easy to over-indulge, which can lead to weight gain and make you feel sluggish. And unless you can limit your drinking to a glass of wine, it’s probably best to avoid it altogether, as this can accentuate depression and create more problems.

(6) Put Things in Perspective – You are not the only person going through a separation or divorce, even though it may feel like that.  Approximately 40% of Canadian marriages end in divorce, so you are definitely not alone.  You still have so much life ahead of you and this pain is temporary. Making a list of everything you have to be grateful for will help get you in a positive mindset. Even though relationships end – remember that new ones begin!

(7) Get Support from Friends and Family – Your friends and family love you and will be understanding if you are not quite yourself during this time. They will also want to support you, but they may not know how best to do so.  Communicate with them as to what you need from them and how they may be able to help you.  You can also seek out support groups of other divorcees who are in the same boat as you and can relate to what you are going through.

(8) Create New Holiday Traditions – This is a great way to create new memories and make a fresh start.  Change is good!

Most importantly, know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  Your relationship has ended because it was not working for you anymore or serving your life in a positive way, so it can only get better from here.

It is also a great idea to seek professional help if you feel depressed and overwhelmed.  Therapy can provide you with unbiased support and skills to help you cope during the pain of separation and divorce and help you heal.

Considering divorce or already decided to proceed?  Call Rahul at Clean Divorce today! Serving clients in Vancouver, New Westminster, and area.