You love your kids and spending the holidays with them, but things are different this year. This holiday season, you’re co-parenting with your Ex. And let’s be honest, it’s pretty terrible.
You’re dreading the upcoming holidays because you know how hard they will be for both you and your children. While dealing with your Ex and sharing the kids, you have to be there for your kids. You know they’ll have big thoughts and feelings about your separation, and that breaks your heart
. You never wanted this for yourself or your kids, yet here you are.
Coping with Change
As a now single individual, the holidays can feel very isolating. You likely feel lonely, wounded, and scared. This is completely understandable. Even under the best of circumstances, divorce is painful and traumatic. It’s a huge change for you and your kids.
When you feel this way, it’s easy to shut down and hide from others. By doing so, you can process these challenging thoughts and emotions. But, this may not be the best way to cope with your distress.
As an individual relationship counselor who helps clients move forward from breakups to start co-parenting with their exes, I want to offer you a few suggestions. I hope these can help you to navigate these challenges.
First of all, you must draw boundaries for both yourself and your children. To do this, ask yourself what you and your children need most this season. You may need peace and time together. Or, you need your family members to back off and be respectful of your situation. You may even need to visit with your children, regardless if it’s not “your day.” Whatever the car may be and whatever you need, advocate for that.
Likewise, have a plan in place for what you’ll do if your boundaries are not respected. Sometimes during messy breakups or custody battles, lines get crossed. Others may fail to respect your wishes. This is unfortunate, but it does happen. The good news is, the only people you have to please are yourself and your kids. So, stand up for yourself and make your feelings known.
Examine your Options
During this tough time, please remember that you have options. For example, you can decide whether you want to do the holidays together or apart. Or, if you don’t have that option, you can choose to stay in town when you don’t have the kids or do something fun for yourself. You even have choices surrounding how you want to approach co-parenting and communicate with your Ex.
Gather Some Support
As I mentioned, it’s easy to isolate yourself when you’re going through a breakup. Most people fall into the trap of assuming others couldn’t understand what they’re going through. But here’s the thing, even if they haven’t been through it themselves, they can still support you during a time of need. So, allow them this opportunity.
Make a list of friends and family members you can talk to about what’s going on. Tell them what you need and how they can help you or your family navigate these very difficult times. This may involve helping transport your kids to your Ex’s home. Or, distracting you with fun holiday activities when you’re feeling down. It may even be something as simple as checking in on you from time to time. Share these things with them and let them help you.
Focus on Self-Care
If you’ve read my mental health blog, you likely know how important self-care is to me. I believe good self-care is essential to achieving good mental health. So take a few minutes to spend some time doing something that makes you happy. Self-care doesn’t have to be lavish and expensive. In fact, it can be as simple as enjoying a piece of pumpkin pie, drinking a warm holiday-themed beverage, or taking a walk and enjoying the beauty of nature. Just find something that makes you happy and allows you to take a moment to de-stress.
Begin Individual Relationship Counseling in North Carolina
If you’re struggling during the holidays with co-parenting, a breakup, stress, or something else, then you should consider reaching out to a skilled therapist for support. I take Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Cigna, and the North Carolina state health plan as insurance coverage. I offer online therapy from my North Carolina-based practice and would be honored to support you. To begin counseling, follow these steps:
Other Services Offered with Michele Seeley LCMHC
Individual relationship counseling isn’t the only service I provide from my North Carolina-based counseling practice. I also offer counseling for anxiety, counseling for depression, and life transition therapy. Learn more about self-esteem therapy, Brainspotting, and online therapy, or feel free to visit my FAQ page or blog!