Your divorce is final and Christmas is just months away. The anxiety that you will have Christmas day without the kids because your ex will have them is setting in.
Is this the first time since the birth of your babies that you will be forced to spend at least part of the Holiday without your children? It’s no fun and the first year is definitely the hardest. But it doesn’t have to be all bad, even though it will be very different. Let me offer you some tips.
- Realize that life is different now and it’s going to be okay! You just have to decide it will be OK and make it so.
- Plan early! Don’t wait until the last minute to coordinate with your Ex what the schedule will be. And remember that the kids want to spend time with both parents.
- Christmas does not have to be Dec 25th! If you won’t be with your kids on the 25th, simply plan a “Special Christmas” when you will be. There is no reason to give up anything, just rearrange.
In my experience with Collaborative divorce, while schedules with the kids are in writing, couples typically are much more amicable. This is one of the main benefits of choosing collaborative. It is as much about the kids as it is about the couple. As a result, if schedules need adjusted for one reason or another the couple is at least willing to have that conversation. Not so much with a litigated divorce which tends to leave a scorched earth and neither side wants to give an inch.
- If this is your first Christmas without the kids, reach out to friends and family, invite yourself if you have to! Don’t spend it alone!!!
- Start new traditions. To help both you and the kids embrace the new reality, start some brand-new traditions that you’ve never had! Ask the Family Life Coach, who is part of the Collaborative process, for some suggestions.
Don’t let your emotions get the best of you. If this is your first Holiday as a single person, you are still in the grieving process and you can expect to have some emotional ups and downs. Do your best to think about your new future and try not to dwell on the past. Think of new possibilities. Are there activities that you’ve always wanted to try but never had the time? Now’s the time to make it happen! Take up a musical instrument! Schedule a weekend trip out of town with a friend or a spa day all by yourself.
And finally, don’t let yourself fall into the “best parent” trap of trying to outspend your ex on presents. The kids see right through it and trust me, they don’t care. Kids want your time not your money. Pass on the iPad and buy a pair of hiking boots. Columbus has some amazing metro parks. The time exploring the outdoors and just quietly walking with the kids will do wonders for you and them. These are the memories the kids will treasure and you will too.
Good luck this Holiday season. Remember, it doesn’t have to be defined as the end. Choose to see the beauty of a new beginning. You can do it!
This article was submitted by Donald Morris, financial advisor and CDFA® Donald is currently serving as president of winwindivorce.org