Navigating the Holidays Post-Divorce

When I filed for divorce in 2018, I had so many things I was worried about. How would I survive financially? How would I manage to move cities alone? Would I ever get married again, or would I be alone forever? One of my biggest worries was how I would survive the holidays without my kids. This will be my third holiday season as a single mom, and while I can’t say it’s something I necessarily enjoy, I’ve learned how to at least survive the lonely holiday weeks when my kids are with their dad. While I am by no means an expert, I do want to offer support and encouragement to other single moms. Here are my best tips for success.

Get Professional Help

I know that therapy is expensive, as is being a single mom. I also know that spare time is hard to come by. But in my opinion, I wouldn’t be holding to the slim shred of sanity I have without counseling. I struggled with finding time to go to an actual live person, so I used Better Help. I tend to be an anxious person, so someone to voice my anxieties to and see how valid they are was very helpful.

Accept That Holidays Will Never be the Same

Unfortunately, they just won’t. Even the holidays you do have your kids will be different because their other parent isn’t there. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be worse! YOU will get to pick all the traditions and come up with new ones (see below). But don’t expect things to be like they were. Keep your expectations realistic.

Make New Holiday Traditions, Just You and the Kids

Here’s where you get to have fun! Did your ex-spouse want to watch a lame movie every year you secretly hated? Were you tired of schlepping to see his family every year? Guess what?! You pick what you want to do now. Do you want to stay in pajamas all day on Thanksgiving? Do you want to drive to Windcrest to see the lights on Christmas Eve? You pick! Going along with the above tip, my suggestion would be to do new things instead of trying to repeat married traditions. It’s emotionally easier for you, and helps the kids get excited about something new.

Treat Yo’ Self

One of the silver linings in being single after many years is suddenly being able to take time for yourself. Save up some extra luxurious self-care for your kid-free holidays. Whether it’s splurging and getting your eyebrows microbladed, or it’s simply going to one of our many beautiful parks and hiking, take advantage of the fact that you have extra time for yourself. It’s not a substitution for your kids, but it helps. My personal favorite is watching Love Actually without anyone telling me how lame it is.

Get Out of Town

Whether it’s taking your best single girlfriends on a vacay or just visiting out-of-town friends and family, if you can avoid sitting in your empty house thinking about how much you miss your kids, do it. I have a single friend that goes to Mexico with her sister every Christmas. I have been traveling to see my family on the East Coast for Christmas, something I never got to do when married.

Divorce is full of uncertainty and trepidation about the future, and the holiday season is one of the most difficult times (don’t get me started on Valentine’s Day!). One thing I’ve learned is that the holidays are hard for many people, married or divorced. But they’re survivable, and I know that one day we will learn to love holidays again.

Kristin moved to San Antonio from Baltimore in 2006. Although she had a brief 2 year stay in Fort Worth, the margaritas, breakfast tacos and the kind souls of our residents drew her back for good. She's a third grade teacher and group fitness instructor, and single mom to Molly (2009), Sadie (2011), Daisy (dog) and Charlie (cat). When she has free time, she's either training for a half marathon or on a patio somewhere with a Titos and soda. Favorite Restaurant: Sustenio Favorite Landmark: The Pearl Brewery Favorite San Antonio Tradition: The Elf Movie parties at Alamo Drafthouse