For many single moms and dads, the holidays are characterized by stress, anxiety, and - in the years when it's the other parent's turn to be with the kids - an ever-present ache.
When it's not "your year" to celebrate Thanksgiving Day or Christmas morning with your children, what helps you get by and survive the holiday blues? In addition to doing what's worked for you in the past, try applying a few of the following suggestions for making the best of the holiday this year.
1. Maintain Your IntegrityFeeling angry and resentful about not spending the holiday with your kids is natural. However, the only thing worse than how you already feel would be missing your children terribly and being ashamed of how you behaved when it was time for them to go. As hard as it is, do your best to put aside any negative feelings about the visit and make an effort to be supportive of your children's relationship with the other parent.
2. Find Other Ways to Celebrate the Holiday TogetherWork with your kids to plan an alternative holiday celebration in advance of the big day. Begin by asking each of your children to tell you which aspects of the holiday they most appreciate, and work to incorporate those activities into your own personal celebration time. Keep in mind, too, that finding a creative way to celebrate the holiday together is just as important to your kids as it is to you!
3. Take Care of YourselfUse the time apart to pamper yourself. Sleep late and treat yourself to things you really enjoy, but rarely get to do. Simply talking in a movie or curling up with a good book can be rejuvenating activities that also serve to clear your mind and restore your sense of well-being.
4. Get Together With FriendsDon't spend the day of the holiday alone. Instead, get together with some friends or your extended family. If you enjoy hosting events, invite some friends over for an informal wine and cheese party. Everyone needs a break at this time of year, and sometimes the most casual gatherings with friends become our fondest memories of the season!
5. Count Your BlessingsThis is also a perfect time to reflect on all that is good in your life. Sit down and make a list of the ways in which you've grown personally in the last year. It's been challenging, and there have been steps along the way that you wouldn't wish upon your worst enemy. But at the same time, you've become a stronger person. Take some time to acknowledge how far you've come and treasure the blessings you've been given.
6. Help Someone Else
One of the best ways to curb your own sadness is to focus on helping others cope with challenges of their own. Visit the web site Volunteer Match to find local opportunities to volunteer your time, from holding babies at the local hospital to serving meals or passing out blankets to the homeless.
7. Be ProductiveYou may find that tackling a large project, such as cleaning out your "junk drawers" or painting a room, is a therapeutic way to spend your time. In fact, some projects, like getting caught up on your monthly bills, may even help you meet your goals for the New Year.
8. RefocusWhile your kids are away, take some time to reflect on your personal goals and priorities. What is really, ultimately, important to you? And does the way you live your life everyday reflect those priorities? If so, how? And if not, how can you take small steps toward aligning your day-to-day actions with your highest aspirations for yourself and your family?