The first post divorce Christmas is difficult to navigate. It is littered with waves of unexpected emotion and no template. The good news is there are some things that you can do to help set yourself up for a softer landing …
- Establish a new tradition. Traditions tell us that we belong. Traditions can be counted on. We need to belong. For this first go round it’s as simple as determining even just one new tradition that brings you and your children some laughter and warmth. Maybe you dig back in time and resurrect one of your childhood traditions that you passed up along the way. Maybe you pull a new tradition out of a hat … yes literally … just start the one and carry it one for years to come.
- Laugh. Play games. Go tobogganing. Make cookies. Go skating. Go to Christmas markets. Make a list of must see holiday movies. Make a gingerbread house. Serve a warm dinner at a local church. Make a snowman. Go carolling. See a live performance of the Christmas Carol. Shovel someone’s sidewalk. Make eggnog. Drink eggnog. Go snowshoeing. Mail Christmas cards to loved ones. Drop off a box or two of chocolates at a local senior citizen home. Go to church. Go to a light festival. Grab hot cocoa and go and drive to look at Christmas lights. Simply find some ways to enjoy time together … where you can have some fun and feel joy with your kids.
- Have a plan. Who, what, when, where … down to the minute. Agree on the plan now. Set yourselves up for success. There’s no room for grey around the holidays. While this will benefit you, this is most important for your children. They need clarity and a plan that is determined by their parents. This is not a choice for your children. There is a right way to do this. It’s sharing time with the kids equally.
- Be you. In the spirit of giving and doing … do what fills you up, not what you think will make you the superior parent. Your children love you equally … no matter what they may, or may not, be communicating.
- Honor the firsts. This is your first Christmas so keep it as drama free as possible. Do not introduce a new person to the scenario. This is one Christmas that needs to be all about and for the children. Give them the best Christmas gift … the space to adjust to their parents not being together.
- Create a plan in regards to your alone time. Whether you have children or not, you will find yourself alone at some point over the holidays. What will help you through this? Plan ahead so that you are not on your own … this first holiday will require tenderness. This may be time with family and friends, this may be ensuring you have an endless supply of bubble bath, this may be ensuring that you have enough wood in the shed to build that desk you’ve always dreamed of. Tap into what fills you up and mark it on the calendar so when the darkness creeps in you can call on the plan to guide you through the day.
The firsts can be rough as they are completely foreign for everyone involved. Everyone is taking their first steps. Therefore there will likely be some bumps and bruises along the way. Get up, brush them off and get back on the path. Say no to conflict. Say yes to not “taking the bait”. Say no to anger. Say yes to kindness. Say no to judgment. Say yes to owning your part. Say yes to being the best you can be for you and your kids.