By Rosalind Sedacca, CDC
Are you facing alone time without the kids this holiday season? Often that’s one of the saddest consequences of divorce when you’re a parent.
What do you do when your children are visiting their other parent? While short-term periods when the kids are away can be a welcome break for an overscheduled single parent, for others the intervals between seeing the children can be long and lonely. It can be particularly challenging when your friends and neighbors are busy with their own family gatherings.
Don’t sink into despair. It’s really important at this time to get creative and absorbed in activities that you find personally fulfilling. This can become an ideal time to reflect on meeting your own needs and finding new people, activities and events that bring joy into your life.
Avoid the pity party!
Among the greatest challenges for divorced parents is avoiding self-pity. When you’re overwhelmed by a sense of isolation or feeling undervalued as a parent can lead to making poor choices when talking with your children. It’s quite easy to bury your hurt in comments designed to make your kids feel guilty about not being with you. We forget that most times those decisions are not really within their control.
Turning toward your support group of family and friends can be really helpful when these feelings arise. Seeking out a counselor or divorce coach can also provide advice and new resources for creating alternative holiday traditions and lifting your spirits.
Strengthening your parent-child connection!
Here are some other ways you can stay in the lives of your children despite the distance between you.
- Create a Journal of holiday activities that you can later share with the kids. This might take the form of a travelogue of places you’ve explored, people you’ve visited, movies you saw and other activities you’ve participated in. You can even bring home a souvenir from each place as something to show and talk about with the kids on their next visit, such as paper restaurant menus, movie ticket stubs, tee shirts, colorful brochures, post-cards, hats, pens, etc.
- Send an email or text message “of the day” to the kids with a theme: such as the YouTube Video of the Day, Staying Warm Tip of the Day, favorite Candy Bar of the Day, Sledding Tip of the Day, Favorite Dessert of the Day – just to keep in touch.
- Join a toy or food distribution drive over the holidays to help needy children in your community so you feel valued while interacting with and bringing joy to other children.
- Make plans to see the same movie as your kids on the same day and then schedule a call to discuss the movie together and share the experience in your own way.
Be creative. Think out of the box in healthy ways and your children will appreciate you without taking on guilt, sadness or shame. This is one of the greatest gifts any parent can give to their children – the gift of enjoying their childhood without the burden of parental divorce issues weighing them down.
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Rosalind Sedacca, CDC is the founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network, a Divorce & Co-Parenting Coach and author of the acclaimed ebook, How Do I Tell the Kids About the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children — With Love! To get her advice, coaching services, expert interviews, programs, e-courses and other valuable resources on divorce and co-parenting, visit: http://www.childcentereddivorce.com
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All rights reserved. © Rosalind Sedacca
This is really great advice. Thanks for publishing this piece!