Holiday Stress – Year Two

22 Dec

If you’re a regular visitor, you’ve heard me state before the importance of focusing on the kids during the holidays. But it bares repeating. Regardless of what holiday it is, as parents we are living our child’s past every day. Every Christmas, 4th of July, birthday, recital, Hanakkah, whatever the celebration; each will be locked stressed-is-desserts
away in our kid’s memory and it’s up to us to do whatever we can to make the memories fond ones.

Let’s face it; the holiday season in particular can be one of the most stressful times of the year. Christmas budgets, work schedules, vacations, travel, getting everything done in time, elf on the shelf craziness, the kids are beyond over stimulated. It’s insanity at times. Now add to it trying to schedule time with TWO families and it only adds to the stress levels.

That’s why it’s crucial that you take a step back and remember what it’s all about. It’s about doing your best to be fun and upbeat. Because if YOU’RE positive, fun and upbeat, the kids will be more likely to follow suit. Countering stress with stress only escalates the problems. And that’s not what you want your kids remembering twenty years from now as they go through old photo albums.

I can pretty much guarantee you that you and your ex are going to have differences of opinions throughout the holiday season. There will be anger, frustration and you’ll be convinced at times that they have no interest in what’s important to you. It doesn’t matter. Your kids don’t want to hear that nor should they. They want to enjoy
the holiday with you and when possible with both you and your ex. Sometimes that’s feasible, sometimes it’s
12-28-09 ornaments118.jpgnot. But what is feasible is you putting on your game face and putting on your big girl panties to make the holiday memories ones that your kids will cherish for a lifetime.

It’s not easy. Lord knows I slip just like you. All you can do is be aware. Just keep picturing the images your children will have in their head of Christmas 2013 and know that you can influence those thoughts. It may mean giving in at times, it may mean holding your tongue at others. It may be something as simple as taking an hour or two to bake cookies with them, driving around looking at holiday light decorations or cuddling up on the couch and watching Elf when they’re with you. The point is to focus on making memories they’ll look back on when they’re older and smile. Let them be little nuggets they hold on to that remind them how special their lives are and how fortunate they are to be loved and how important they are to someone on this planet.

If I sound preachy, my sincere apologies. That’s not my intention. I simply know how difficult these times of the year can be especially when you’re divorced. Know that I say these things to myself daily as much as I say them to you. I repeat them over and over in my head as a reminder of what my focus needs to be and a means of committing to making every attempt to make this holiday one of laughter and joy for the people most important to me; my kids. If I’ve learned anything through the first two years of our divorce, it’s that arguments during the holidays accomplish nothing. Stress causes us to lose our focus on what’s important. The gifts don’t matter, the lines at the mall don’t matter, the stress doesn’t matter, the kids laughing during the holidays does matter. So plan ahead, be reasonable, be flexible and be joyful.

Peace and have an amazing holiday!


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7 responses to “Holiday Stress – Year Two

  1. Pat Rooney

    December 23, 2012 at 9:26 am

    Seeing how you handle keeping positive while in a real life struggle, is helping me relate to my son who is in a similar situation.

    • divorced dad

      December 23, 2012 at 9:37 am

      You made my week! That’s the whole purpose of this blog. I think sometimes it helps just knowing you’re not alone.

  2. Uncle Luke

    December 26, 2012 at 8:46 am

    This is easier said then done. I feel like if I can avoid being negative ive done well. When your ex wants to swamp the little kids with gifts, especially gifts that are total junk, just to try and win favors with them in the moment, and you just want to be with the kids yet have to deal with her family if you want to see them, its best to stay quiet. I have two very young daughters and I am expected to be a provider while ex wife is with them all day getting to shape them in ways I cannot. Its very hard to expect much positivity over the holidays and I did well this year to put on a fake smile, be there when the girls wanted to be with me and not their toys, and then move on the next day. I dont care how you shape it, it is very difficult seeing your kids while trying to do your best for them knowing that being from a broken home puts them at so much disadvantage going forward. Dads are usually the ones without any real emotional support which makes it even harder.

    • divorced dad

      December 26, 2012 at 11:47 am

      I don’t think you’re alone in your perspective Uncle Luke. There is always a strong disconnect and it takes a tremendous amount of energy to stay positive and keep wearing the “smile.” Whether or not you’re working on some level ‘with’ your ex, the stark reality that your family core is a cracked foundation is impossible to ignore. This becomes even more obvious during the holidays when you’re trying to establish some sort of rock for your kids to look back on. My hope is that as time moves on and our lives continue to evolve away from each other, new foundations will establish themselves along with more genuinely positive experiences.

      My hat is tipped to you for your efforts to hold it together and keep the kids the focus.

  3. Joseph

    December 27, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    It’s my second Xmas away from my four kids, ages 26,18,15(twins.). She wanted out after 36 years, and Xmas just sucked! Same story, she’s in the house we lived in for 28 years, I’m in a studio apt. She’s with the kids all the time, were I’m not…they’re older, have jobs, school work and friends…I text and call all the time…sometimes it takes days for them to get back to me. I miss the everyday interactions so very much, and hate my ex for taking it away from me…I know, blah, blah, blah…I’m sure you’ve heard it all before.

    • divorced dad

      December 27, 2012 at 2:28 pm

      No matter what the circumstances are, the holidays always seem to amplify the negatives and remind everyone of the fact that it’s not like it used to be. It’s tough for the parents, the kids, everyone. Hang in there. Part of what this blog is about is hearing and recognizing that we’re not alone in this. We all experience the same or similar emotions and circumstances. Hang tough. All you can do is let your kids know you’re there and stay positive. They’ll notice at some point.

  4. Courtney

    November 15, 2014 at 1:51 am

    Thank you for posting this at the end of the day as long as the kids are happy and healthy it was a successful day/holiday. This will be my first big holiday and even though I have an infant I’m making a book about her first year.


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