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Planning your first holiday season post-divorce

The holiday season is here. While this should be a happy time of year for people, the truth is that it can be incredibly stressful, especially for anyone navigating it for the first time after a divorce.

This year, you may not see your children when you want to; your family gatherings can be more difficult than ever. You may be worried about finances. While this can all seem overwhelming and upsetting, know that there are some ways you can approach this season to make it easier. One way to do this is to start thinking about your holiday plans now. More specifically, consider your budget, your child custody plan and your social calendar.

Financial plans

Financially, you should look at your current income and expenses. Think about holiday-related expenses like travel and gifts. Consider any year-end bonuses you may receive or extra work you might pursue. Once you have a better understanding of your budget and expenses, you can plan accordingly.

Further, if you are co-parenting, discuss coordination of gifts for your children to avoid awkward or competitive situations.

Parenting plans

In terms of child custody, make sure you and your ex know and comply with your parenting plan, which should address holiday schedule. Clarify any rules for attending events like school plays or religious services.

You can also focus on helping your children through this time, as it can be difficult for them as well. Explore new traditions when you cannot observe old ones. For times when you will not be with your children, plan to do something special for yourself during that time to feel better.

Social plans

Holiday social activities can seem either exciting or daunting. In either case, try to strike a balance between spending time with others and giving yourself some time to breathe and relax.

Another important thing to remember is that divorces affect friendships and family members. Make time for those you trust and feel happy around; minimize time with people who may be toxic or unsupportive of you. And if there are outings you are more comfortable attending with a partner, consider going with a friend rather than skipping it altogether.

Thinking about the holiday season now may seem premature. However, doing so sooner rather than later can help you avoid unpleasant surprises and missteps that can arise after a divorce.

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