Today I present a posting by a guest writer, Alexis Hall, who provides some tips for getting through the first holiday season as a recently divorced or separated parent. This may be a worthy read for those still having difficulties with the post break-up relationship. So, here is . . .
Managing the Holidays as a Newly Single Parent
As a freshly divorced or separated parent, facing the holidays, you can feel overwhelmed. Thinking through the changes you have endured can bring you down. You may also feel like finances are out of control. By following this great advice you can navigate the holidays and feel better about yourself and your situation.
Starting new: The first holiday season following a divorce is tough. Good planning and a positive outlook can make a world of difference. Huffington Post offers this advice:
Don’t spend the holidays alone. Connect with your family and friends. Reach out with invitations to lunch, take in a movie, or attend celebrations. Engage with a support group or spend time volunteering for a charity.
Avoid difficult memories. Don’t allow yourself to be haunted during the holidays. Attending events that remind you of your former relationship can lead to unhealthy thought patterns. Look for experiences that build new memories. Some experts suggest starting a new tradition with the children, like going sledding or baking something special. Talk with them about what they would enjoy.
Make a getaway. A vacation can be just the ticket for new memories. If you can’t get out of town, visit a museum or go for a driving tour.
Keep parenting time positive. Carefully schedule parenting time and make exchanges in places that are fun, such as a park or shopping mall filled with decorations. Both you and the other parent will feel better if the children are excited and enjoying themselves.
New year = new you. With the coming of a fresh year, you can put behind the difficulties of the past. Embrace it by taking up a new hobby or sport.
If you can’t shake the blues. Are you oversleeping frequently, or find you feel moodier than usual? You may be struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). If you’re in a funk and can’t seem to get out of it, the Mayo Clinic warns that you should watch for these symptoms of SAD:
Feeling depressed almost all day, every day
Changes in appetite or weight
Feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless
Thoughts of suicide
Symptoms left untreated can get worse. If you think you may be suffering from SAD, it’s important to talk with your doctor. PsychCentral notes that many health insurance plans will cover your visit but may dictate what facility and doctor you see. Check before you make an appointment.
Take care of your finances. Let’s face it, money worries are a major source of stress. If you are struggling with how to make ends meet as a single parent, here is some great advice from Entrepreneur to reduce your concerns.
Create a budget. Start with your fixed expenses such as your housing, utilities, food and insurance. Figure out how much you need in an emergency savings fund. Since you’re the only source of income, you should plan to set aside six months to a year of living expenses. Next, set some goals for retirement and your kids’ college accounts. The money that is left can be used toward things like gifts and vacation funds.
Engage your support system. Trading favors with friends and loved ones can save money. Carpool to save gas and wear and tear on your vehicle. Trade childcare or pet care with a friend, relative or neighbor.
Gift shopping. Unsure what you can get the kids this year and still stick to that budget you just made? Parenting suggests a number of options under $10, such as crafts, toys, and games. For the adults on your list, professionals recommend doing something thoughtful but inexpensive. Load some favorite photos onto a memory stick, buy a few bars of indulgent chocolate, or give a pair of beautifully handknit socks.
Embrace the season. The first holiday season after your divorce will be tough, but you can find your way through and even start building new memories. If you can’t seem to shake the blues, get help, and make sure your finances are under control. These tips will help you successfully navigate the holidays as a newly single parent.
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