The holidays are usually a crazy time of the year anyway, but being divorced seems to make them even more so. You are short on time and money, you may have to share the holidays with ex or members of his family, you need to juggle time with your children, and you or others may still have pretty high expectations for you. STOP!! Put on the brakes! Because of your divorce, this holiday will be different – that’s the nature of things. Don’t let the holidays add to the stress of your life at this point.
1. Plan ahead: You know the holidays are coming – it happens every year about this time. Keep a list on your fridge of things you need to do, gifts you need to buy, etc. I have a small white board on my fridge. It’s my best organizational buddy! If I know a party is coming up, I bake ahead of time instead of waiting until the night before. Do as much as you can ahead of time.
2. Don’t procrastinate: You know the saying, “Don’t put off ’till tomorrow what you can do today”? If you leave your holiday shopping, etc. to the last minute, you will surely be stressed and hopelessly overwhelmed. If planning ahead overwhelms you, make a list and cross one thing off every day or every other day. Do what works for you.
3. Lower your expectations: All those things you did with ex, all the traditions you thought you had to keep – toss them out the window! Now is the time to make new traditions. Make the holiday what YOU want it to be, not what others want it to be. I don’t put out all my Christmas decorations, nor do I drag out all the ornaments for my tree. I put out the decorations I really like. This year, I decorated Thanksgiving weekend. I normally don’t do that. But it’s my apartment and my decorations, so I did what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it. As a result, I am not rushed to put up my tree and decorations.
4. Make a budget and stick to it: It’s so easy to go whacko crazy with your credit card around the holidays. Word of advice – DON’T! Budget out how much you can afford to spend and don’t go over that limit. You may need to drop some folks from your Christmas gift list, or from your Christmas card list. You may need to go cheaper this year – smaller denomination gift cards or homemade cookies or candy. You may not have a whole lot of money after your divorce. Don’t start out the new year, and your new life, by digging a financial hole you cannot get out of. Don’t live above your means. If your friends and family have a problem with cheaper gifts this year, just tell them, “I need to stick with my budget”. Mary Poppins said, “I never explain anything!” Don’t feel like you need to explain your decision.
5. Take some time for YOU: I love to sit in my napping chair (my amazing $50 estate sale find) with a glass of wine and my dogs snoozing on either side of me. I turn off the lights and turn on my Christmas tree. Sometimes, I will have soft Christmas music playing in the background. I enjoy the quiet, the beauty of my tree, the companionship of my dogs, and the relaxing peacefulness of my home. That time alone is my recharge time. At other times, I may read a book, or watch a movie and knit, but that time is just for me. I find the snoring of my dogs to be quite soothing!
Above all, remember – if it’s not done by Christmas Eve, it wasn’t meant to get done. This holiday is for YOU. Gone are all the crazy things you did or did not do with ex. Want to go somewhere for Christmas? Stay home? Go see a local Christmas play? Light display? Sing ‘Jingle Bells” at the top of your lungs? Do it!! Gone are the expectations for that “perfect” holiday. Take time this season to slow down, to sit down, to take stock of where you are. The best gift you can give yourself this Christmas is less stress. Trust me, you will thank yourself for it! Stay tuned. . . .