Often the holidays are called the most wonderful time of the year. However, if you're a freshly divorced dad and newly minted single parent, the upcoming holiday season is likely to feel like anything but. Fortunately, you can put a few plans in place to help survive the first, difficult holiday season as a single dad.
Four Tips to Surviving Your First Holiday Season as a Single Dad
While all these tips might not match your scenario, focus on the ones that do, and get your plans in place now.
1. Get Ahead of Seasonal Depression
Even if you've never struggled with seasonal depression in the past, this year's unique circumstances could have an emotional impact beyond what you're accustomed to dealing with. And if you have struggled with seasonal depression in the past, this year could take things to another level.
Factors that can help ease symptoms of seasonal depression:
- Pay attention to your nutrition
- Exercise moderation with alcohol
- Get plenty of rest, sleep, and exercise
- Get some sun on your skin when you can (and take vitamin D when you can't)
- Talk to a counselor or therapist
- Limit your time on social media
- Follow the guidance on medication
There's no shame in being smart about the possibility of seasonal depression, taking care of yourself, and asking for help.
2. Make Sure Your Children Feel Included
When you and your ex-spouse are discussing upcoming holiday plans, be sure the children are looped into the conversation. Remember, this isn't just about what you and your ex want. Your children have wants of their own. Their needs should also be considered, and in order for that to happen, they first must feel as if they're being heard.
On any of the major milestone days you and your children aren't able to be physically together (whether it be Thanksgiving, the first day of Chanukah, Christmas, or New Year's Eve), be sure that they know they're on your heart and mind. Schedule a screen time date, have treats delivered, send small gifts, cards, and text messages.
Whatever it takes to make them feel included in your life.
3. Resist the Urge to Compete
With your children likely to spend part of the holidays with you and part with your ex, the urge to turn your celebrations into a competition will be high. But be warned: taking your celebrations over the top, lavishing expensive gifts on your children, and attempting to out-do one another will backfire. Such behavior treats your children as pawns in a game they never signed up for.
Whatever you do, resist the urge to compete with your ex. Don't give that sort of energy any space in your head. It will only dampen your joy in the time you do spend with your loved ones.
4. Don't Try to Live in the Past
Recreating holidays of the past may be especially tempting this year, especially if your kids are spending any of the "big days" with you. While the routines, rhythms, and habits you built up over the years may feel comforting, engaging in them now might not be the wisest choice. In fact, some of them might not even be possible! And even if they are, there's a high chance that, given the ongoing fallout of the divorce, they might ring hollow.
Instead of trying to re-create holiday seasons of the past, take this opportunity to start new traditions and make new memories.
I Can Help
Holidays can be hard for families, particularly the first holiday season after a divorce. While practicing family law in the greater Charlotte area over the past ten years, I've gained extensive experience in helping families cope. I focus on helping divorced dads fight for their families, and I look forward to fighting for you.
Call today to schedule your consultation.