HOW TO HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS WHEN IT'S NOT YOUR YEAR WITH THE KIDS
10 Survival Tips for the Non-Custodial Parent
Christmas is coming! As usual, the Grove in LA doesn't fail to amaze us with their perfectly decorated tree and tinsel, along with a gigantic Santa's House, and live chorales of seasonal music - a wonderland of happiness to ring in the holidays.
But we barely notice all that jazz. All we can stare at is our children - our pride and joy - and fuel our addiction to their laughter and smiles.
My husband says to me, "It's such a treat to have kids during Christmas!"
It sure is. Which is why it totally sucks when you have to alternate holidays with your ex.
Here are some tips to make it bearable this year.
1. Have Christmas a week, a month early. As with all natural disasters (earthquakes, fires, being without your children!), plan accordingly. If this is an EVEN year, and you have your children for Christmas on ODD years, you will need to celebrate early this year!
Purchase gifts, have a tree (you can order trees online), and explain to the children that you are not skipping the celebration just because you don't have them this year. Instead of Christmas without you, they will get TWO Christmases!
2. Have Christmas for a WHOLE MONTH.
Hey, the Grove gets away with it every year. The tree is up, and it is NOVEMBER 10!!!! Start celebrating now!! Spoil your kids rotten for a month. By the time it's actually Christmas, you'll probably be sick of Christmas music, and you'll be ready for a normal day (even if it's without the kids.)
3. Facetime or Skype on Christmas! If you are on good terms with your ex (and what better time than the holidays to be chummy?), you can arrange a brief Facetime visit. This is also wonderful for the non-custodial grandparents.
4. Volunteer your blues away! You think your life sucks? Go to the local orphanage, where you will find children who don't have parents. They would love to have you. If you have gifts of song or dance - or baking - or just simply being there to hug them, GO AND BE WITH the needy. They will love you. And love is what you need. Google local churches. They'll get you the volunteer A-List.
Here, I just googled it for you. How to Find Volunteer Projects at Christmas Time. Enjoy.
5. Celebrate your day without children by doing adult things! If you have very young children, this tip is for you. There are some restaurants and resorts that do NOT allow toddlers and babies. Yay! These are for you. Watch a REAL movie without cartoon characters. Get a massage, and then hang out and lounge at the steam room. Enjoy a nice long dinner with your friends without rushing home. Drink a glass of champagne. Listen to music that Elmo doesn't sing.
6. Change your Custody Order. Get together with your ex, and if it's feasible (location, emotion) and see if both of you can agree to share the children on this special holiday.
7. Take lots of pictures and videos during your year, and view them every year. It is amazing what a walk down memory lane can do for your mood.
8. Spoil yourself rotten. Pamper. Indulge. Overindulge. Terranea Resort. You deserve it.
9. Take a trip. A long trip. An international trip with a huge time change. You won't even know you missed them.
10. Be Extra Gracious in Preparation of Next Year. Instead of being bitter, be extra nice to your ex - they'll be the ones in your shoes NEXT year. If you have a tradition - Christmas caroling, gifting pajamas, etc. - request that your ex keep it in place without you. Offer to do the same next year when they don't have the kids.
The holidays are only a lonely time if you choose to feel that way. If you look around, there are many people who need you in many ways. You can benefit by turning the focus on others (ah, the true holiday spirit!). So many people forget the meaning of Christmas - it is the utmost celebration of the birth of our saviour Jesus Christ, who died to save our wretched souls. Being in the true spirit of Christmas is thinking of others, and forgetting our own selfish needs and desires.
Surround yourself with family. Remember, it's just this year. Next year, you'll have them again.
Finally, remember, all parents (whether separated, divorced/married, widowed) all eventually deal with not having children for Christmas. Consider it a blessing that you have early training.
For all of you - children, no children, married, single, divorced, widowed, it's complicated - Have a Wonderful Holiday.
The Law Offices of Kelly Chang