Missing your kids and feeling alone at Christmas? Try these 10 tips to lift your spirits.
I cannot think of Christmas without a vision of family. What if you are alone this Christmas? Not only do you not have your spouse but you don’t have your kids? The first thing I need to tell you is you are not alone; 50% of marriages split up and there are often kids in that mix. Either you or your ex has to be without their children on Christmas Eve or Christmas.
When you are newly divorced or separated this can feel like an overwhelming loss. Hauling out the ornaments and decorations may bring a flood of memories. It is common to ask yourself if the divorce or separation was necessary. Could you have worked through it? This ambiguity is heightened when you go to the mall and see couples hand in hand. You begin to wonder if you could have done something differently to make it work. Remembering the good times makes you more likely to feel depressed when you are newly divorced. Feeling sorry for yourself won’t make the situation go away.
There are things you can do to make this Christmas less heartbreaking and give you a deeper sense of gratitude. Children are barometers for parents, and if they see a parent unhappy it will make them feel sad. Don’t make your kids suffer your loneliness in your first Christmas without them. Make a plan now, and Christmas Eve will be a bit less painful.
1. Think out of the box. You don’t need to have the same traditions you had when you were married. If you are alone it is an opportunity to start over and do what really matters to you.
2. Make a plan to call your children at a particular time. Negotiate with your ex regarding what time would be good so as not to interfere with their holiday plans (the more you support your ex in being a good parent, the better chance your children have of growing up to be confident, well-adjusted people).
3. Invite family or friends over for Christmas Eve. The more you focus on serving others the deeper meaning Christmas will have for you.
4. If your kids are going to be gone for two or three days and you cannot bear being in the house alone, plan a short trip. Instead of buying gifts no one needs, splurge on a short trip you always wanted to take. People are very friendly this time of year, and most likely you will not have to struggle to make friends.
5. Allow yourself to do whatever you could not do when the kids were with you. Take a hot bath, or stay up and read until 3 a.m.
6. Watch a movie that makes you feel uplifted.
7. Do something creative. Maybe a room in the house needs to be painted. You are alone, and no one said that you cannot decorate or fix up the house on Christmas Eve. Make it your own holiday, and do what takes your mind off your loneliness.
8. Remember that divorce shatters both partners’ self esteem. This is not a good time to be looking for Mr. or Mrs. Right. Much wiser to call an old friend and ask them if they can listen for a while.
9. Write your story. The more people can write about their thoughts and feelings the quicker they can work through them and gain understanding. Who knows, you may be creating a best seller.
10. Light a candle, turn on soft music and pray. You are a spiritual being having a human experience and this part of being a human is painful.
Most people are afraid of being alone. For many the fear keeps them trapped in broken relationships and broken families. If your marriage didn’t work out, and you do find yourself alone at Christmas, celebrate the fact that you aren’t trapped in a marriage that was broken. Look to tomorrow, believe in the lessons you learned today. You're going to be okay.
–Mary Jo Rapini