Are you worried about being separated these holiday?
Think of Christmas like your divorce. If you choose to be an active participant, then the likelihood that you will be happier with the outcome is more probable. By being proactive and planning appropriately and educating yourself, your separation and festive seasons will be far better for it.
Whether you are new to having Christmas alone or sharing children, Rachael Scharrer, divorce expert and founder of DivorceAnswered, has collated some top tips for managing this period.
10 TOP TIPS FOR THE FESTIVE SEASON
CHANGE IS GOOD
- Accept that life has changed and Christmas will never be exactly the same as previous years. It is essential that you adjust your expectations and embrace the difference.
- Try to live without remorse. Looking to the past, living with regrets, wallowing in self-pity and reliving what used to be doesn’t assist your general wellbeing. People are attracted to others with a happier disposition and it’s nice to be social at this time of year.
- Make plans. Agree on a plan for parenting over Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and other days throughout the school holiday. Consider the phone contact, change overs and whether you want to have activities with both parents present.
- Plan to positively co-parent by looking at Christmas from the child(ren)’s perspective and how they would like to spend their time. The children are priority and it is them who have to share their Christmas between two families.
- Plan to complete a project (especially when the kids are away). Do it for yourself or for the home. You might like to paint a room, create a photo album, start a journal, go to the library and rent some DVDs, give new life to furniture, learn a new skill or ‘spring-clean’ your space.
START FRESH WITH NEW TRADITIONS
- Celebratory date change: Perhaps you plan to change your date of celebration with your family to Christmas Eve or Boxing Day instead of Christmas Day.
- Cultural traditions: Look to your heritage and see if there any cultural traditions around Christmas that you could introduce
- Religion: Choose to become religious on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve.
- Open house: Perhaps entertain with friends on Christmas Eve etc, have Christmas/Boxing Day open home.
- Local attractions: If you are in high tourist/back-packer area, go to the park or beach to socialise with others in similar situations
- Happy snaps: Get family photographs taken of you and your children or you and your family. Celebrate the new structure of your family. Alternatively, enjoy taking photographs of friends, children and yourself as you all enjoy the festive season
PAY IT FORWARD.
- Giving back: If you are on your own on Christmas day or around the Christmas period, there are many charities that would appreciate your assistance. From preparing food and serving food to distributing gifts. Talk with your friends/employer, they will know many great causes that will appreciate the extra assistance around Christmas.
- Don’t hide away. Don’t be a recluse… get out there and create opportunities and play-dates/catch-ups. Entertain and celebrate but also schedule in some relaxation and calm time this Christmas.
- Surround yourself with friends and family and the people who love you and care for you.
- Connect with other divorcees with children, child-less divorcees and Christmas time “orphans”. These people may find themselves in similar situations as you do and will appreciate the company.
- Some offices need staffing over Christmas. Some divorcees may choose to work throughout the Christmas period saving their annual leave for a time more suitable to them. These employees may find that the working days during this period are less stressful and a fraction shorter allowing them to catch up on filing and prepare for the following year.
- Don’t be so focused on distractions to the point of exhaustion. Christmas is not only for celebrating but also for re-cooperating, resting and relaxing
- Don’t self-medicate your sadness/loneliness/anxiety with alcohol, food or drugs. You may end up doing something silly (or spending far too much money) which is never helpful
FOCUS ON YOUR PRESENCE
- Be the bigger person. Don’t create drama or problems and don’t allow yourself to get dragged into drama. Ensure that you conduct yourself with grace and dignity at all times.
- Don’t talk negatively about your ex-spouse and make sure you don’t allow your friends and family to speak negatively about your ex-spouse. Try to move beyond the “ex” conversation and agitations.
- Give yourself a “time out”. Consciously choose to not talk about your ex-spouse and divorce situation for the holidays (just for the short period). You will find that your general state of mind and wellbeing will improve by not re-living the negative experience
- Finances at this time of the year can be stretched to the limit. Set a present budget for particular people and advise others in advance that you won’t be present giving with them. This way you can avoid any awkward situations.
- Get creative with presents, so “think outside the square.” A gift made with love is always appreciated.
- No space for lots of presents? Give an experience so you can have some quality time with that special someone. Consider: rock climbing, horse riding, dining out together, theatre/musical/opera, theme parks, zoo passes.
- Have a short trip, house swap with friends or get out of the town. If you can’t afford a “holiday”, a get-away feels just like one. It could be your surf/turf change, a road trip or just a weekend away
- The holidays can feel like a long time. People in strong relationships can also feel like the holidays are long. You and kids will get tired but it is only one part of the year so you might as well make the most of it.
- Be a tourist in your home town. Many Australian’s see more sites overseas than they do inside Australia. There are lots of free or cheap activities you and your family can participate in over the Christmas period to make the time more fun and special. Check out your local council, newspapers or search “what’s on” in your city.
- Give yourself an amazing gift. Mark momentous milestones with a reward or special treat. Give yourself time, meditation/yoga each day, a piece of “break up” jewellery, a day at the spa or some self-care time (enjoy a bath, home manicure/pedicure, scrub, tan).