Christmas season can be a dreaded time for many people even if they aren’t going through anything like a break up or divorce. Many barely tolerate the festivities at best. But how do you navigate the holidays now that all the traditions that your ex-spouse and you built together are dismantled? Where do you go for dinners and other family activities?

The biggest hurtle is now that you are separated and everyone in the family knows, they have begun to pick sides. Usually your own family will support you no matter what. However that does not replace the memories of seasons past when you knew exactly what to expect at holiday time. ( dinner at Grandmas Christmas eve, breakfast at Mom and Dads on Christmas day then back to our house for dinner with spouses cousins and others) and your children remember these traditions and want everything as it was before. Its really hard to know how to figure out exactly where you belong or how to make it fair for all involved, especially the children.

The easiest place to start is with the children because let’s face it…if they have fun then we call it success. If you never had children then your world is open to endless possibilities to distract yourself during this time.

During the separation phase with lawyers and mediators the topic of shared holiday time with children is brought up. Hopefully by now you both had some discussion about what that will look like moving forward.

***In my situation my ex husband and I didn’t want to be without the children at Christmas time so we made this arrangement.

-December 23 and 24 until 9:00pm the children stayed with their father.

-December 24, 25 & 26 they stayed with me. But then would be returned back to their father for extra time until school started in January.

This arrangement worked very well as we resided in the same city and we both had a massive love of this holiday.

However, Christmas eve was a particularly hard day to get through for me as I was often alone. I missed my kids something horrible and didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere. My extended family had traditions of their own and didn’t think to ask me if I wanted to join in. I didn’t dare show up at my ex’s parents place as that was former tradition so I was left to figure out how to get through this loneliness on my own.

I began by making sure my house was clean for when the children came home. After that I attended evening church services which surprisingly fulfilled the loneliness feeling and used up what free time I had left. Then I would sneak around the house getting staged for my duty of being Santa after everyone was asleep which in my house was a big job. This was enough to get me out of my funk and into the Christmas spirit.

As the years went along circumstances changed in my life and Christmas eve changed as well. However, even though our children are grown now we still follow this baseline routine. The kids decide where and what they are doing but it always includes both parents somehow and this makes my heart happy. ***

During the holidays it is especially important to be fair to everyone involved. Keep in mind that the children need both parents at this time to build healthy memories with not to mention extended family on both sides. It is equally important to understand that this isn’t going to be easy for you or your ex every year but keep the children at the center of all decisions. Doing this will feel right.

Remember that it is very common to have some yule tide sadness regardless of your current situation. Keep in check with yourself. Reach out to your BFF for a chat as that always feels good not to mention that you know you are loved by that person.

You will get through this season……

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