Do you know that heart sinking feeling when you start to focus on the fact that it’s not your turn to have your children with you this Christmas. Add to that a slight jittery panicky sensation and a cold heavy feeling of dread. It’s the part that still strikes a chord deep within and brings tears to the surface however relieved you are not to be living with your ex any longer.
For some this is the very worst part of being divorced, especially if your children are young enough to still believe in the magic of Christmas. It seems so unfair as when you first held your child you never dreamed that there would ever spend a childhood Christmas apart. It’s a time for being with loved ones and who is more precious than you own small bundle of joy.
However the reality is you cannot change the fact that you will not be with your kids if this is part of your divorce deal. Of course there is no magic wand to take away all the pain, however you do have a choice to make. You can decide whether you want to focus on the hurt and upset of the situation or grab back your control and find a way to flip this around and make it a positive experience for you. The trick is to find a way to make this Christmas more bearable and even enjoyable given that there is nothing you can do to change it.
Here are seven steps to help you cope with not seeing your kids over Christmas:
First of all it helps to remember that you are not alone in feeling lonely at Christmas. There are lots of people in all different circumstances who are suffering from the same feeling. Loneliness comes in many guises. You can even feel lonely when you are in a marriage if you are not happy.
You don’t have to miss out on the magic of Christmas just because you don’t have your kids with you on 25th December. You can always recreate it on a different date. Do it exactly as you would with all your routines and traditions and you will be able to capture the magic with your children as they will be just as excited, if not even more so, to have two Christmas Days and two lots of presents from Father Christmas!
Plan ahead to make sure you have something special to do on Christmas Day. Take some time to think about what you really want to do on 25th December. Some of you might actually like to spend the day on your own pampering yourself with a lovely hot bubble bath, glass of bubbles and box of chocolates. Others may prefer to be out with friends or family and to spend the day celebrating with other people.
Keep an open mind and try something new. A rewarding way to spend time over Christmas is to volunteer some time to help with a charity. This will help to shift your focus away from your own situation and open your eyes to how other people less fortunate than you are coping over Christmas. It’s a great way to meet other single people too as many of the volunteers are in your situation too.
The run up to the time apart from your children is often worse than the actual time they are away. The dread of saying goodbye to them looming is difficult when everyone else you know is getting excited about their family plans together.
When the kids are gone the countdown starts to their return and it’s up to you to pack in as many fun things as possible. It’s a chance for “you time” so make sure you spend some quality time with friends you don’t get to see often and do them things you never get the chance to squeeze in between the school run and the daily chores. It’s also a great chance to get all those jobs out the way that you have been putting off. By setting yourself some goals you will feel like you are making positive progress and using the time wisely.
Socialise and maybe go on a date. Christmas is the party season so make the effort to go out and mingle. There are lots of people out and about and it’s a great time to make some new friends. A great confidence boost is to go out with a friend and make a pact to meet some new people. You never know who you may meet and where it may lead!
I know from personal experience that being without your children over Christmas is challenging. There are times when of course it will make you sad, you love them and you would rather be with them for sure. However it’s not what happens to you in life that matters, it’s what you do about it that defines you as a person. So it’s time to take a deep breath and step up. Transform your situation into one that you enjoy and have with fun. If you can learn and grow from the experience then it will no longer have that hold of fear over you. You can flip it into a different kind of Christmas with new magic moments that you would never have dreamed of before.
Make this a Merry Christmas as well as an empowering one for you!
Sara Davison, best known as ‘The Divorce Coach’ is the author of best-selling book, Uncoupling1, and recently launched the UK’s first ever Break-Up Recovery Retreats, dubbed ‘Heartbreak Hotel. She will be launching her new book, The Split, on Monday 7th January.