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  • Writer's pictureKaila Thornton

Navigating the Holidays After Divorce: A Survival Guide

Navigating the Holidays after Divorce Survival Guide

Christmas can bring up a lot of feelings during the holidays. Oftentimes we are happy to see family members, eat good food, or just take some time off to relax from the day-to-day stresses. It can also be a transitional time for those who have undergone changes such as a divorce or break-up. Often we hear couples and individuals question if it’s the right time to separate or get a divorce during the holidays. But you are not alone! It is natural to feel that you’ve given your relationship your all and despite the desire to push through the holidays, you decide to do what is best for you and your family by beginning your separation process now. Navigating the holidays while going through a divorce, especially if you are a parent, can be really difficult but also commendable, particularly when you believe your family would be healthier or in a better place after the separation.  Our favorite analogy a client has ever used is that they felt like a plant that could no longer grow and thrive while they were married.  But by going through a divorce, it allowed both of them to flourish as individuals, becoming even better co-parents.  There is nothing wrong with wanting to separate or divorce during the holidays, but there are ways to make it healthier or more thoughtful. 

Mediation could be the answer to your concerns about separating this holiday season! You are likely stressed out by the unknown divorce brings while trying to keep the norm for your children and family. Mediation can often be less stressful than litigation, as it avoids the adversarial nature of the courts.  Litigation typically involves you against your spouse, which often leads to escalated conflict - not the most cheery feeling for the holidays.  Mediation, in the alternative, is a lower conflict process outside of court.  You don’t have to enter a courthouse or even leave your home, with your cozy holiday pajamas.  

While the holiday season also brings about a lot of expenses (gifts, decorations, food), many couples don’t want to take on the financial implications of a divorce at this time.   Couples will be spending 80-90% less money going through mediation than litigation. Which leaves more spending room to buy Christmas gifts for the kids. 

Lastly, mediation helps you reach mutually beneficial agreements that typically make you feel more secure and hopeful during an uncontrollable time. It’s nice to know that even during the holidays you can still work on your divorce agreements and co-parenting swiftly and smoothly by going through mediation. 


Besides beginning your divorce or separation process in mediation, here are some other helpful tips to surviving a divorce during the holidays:

Pour into yourself

During the holidays, we often feel that we have to please others by buying the gift they’ve wanted for years or putting on a smile in front of our not so favorite family members. But we too often forget that we are our main priority, especially during a divorce. If you can’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of others. So take some time during this stressful time to do something just for you to take your mind off the transitional period you are in. 

Spend time with people you love

Surround yourself with uplifting people during this time. It is okay to have a shoulder to cry on. You are figuring out and imagining your life separate from someone you thought would be there the rest of your life. That can often create a feeling of loss, loneliness, or failure . Having a support group to uplift you and listen can be very helpful. 

Don’t forget to make your kids feel loved 

Managing the holiday season with children and a separation process can feel daunting.  It is important to remember that children often recognize the feelings of their parents, including stress.  It may not be a perfect holiday season, but it is important to show your kids love during this time and uplift their spirits as well. Create new traditions with them and let them know you are still there for them.  It is a tricky balance to care for yourself and your children during a challenging time, but it is not about being perfect - it’s about finding joy even in the challenging times of life.

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