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The holiday season is among us, and as stressful as this time of year can be, holiday seasons after a divorce can be even more difficult if you’re not spending it with your kids. So how do you deal? As hard as it may be to believe, it is possible. And you can make it through minus the emotional meltdown with these helpful tips.

1. Create New Customs. If there were family traditions that you and your ex did with the children during your marriage, create new ones for you and the kids to get excited about doing each year in the time that they are with you. Take in a movie together. Bake holiday cookies. Make crafts or take a mini vacay either before or after the holiday. Doing so won’t just make things easier for you, but it’ll also help your children cope with changes in their holiday happenings.

2. Make It a Different Kind of Family Affair. Can you survive holiday dinners with your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other family members without wanting to pull your hair out? Then head over the river and through the woods to somebody’s house to keep yourself preoccupied and surrounded by loved ones.

3. Savor the Solitude. Face it, as a parent, it may not be too often that you actually get time to yourself. And without work and the kids, the holidays give you that coveted peace and quiet that you’ve probably wanted all year long. So, spend the day pampering yourself, then pour a glass of wine and curl up with a good book, or indulge in a marathon of reality TV. You know, whichever you find the most gratifying.

4. Spend It With a Friend. In this day and age, it’s not uncommon to have a friend or two who’s also facing a holiday alone. If you’d rather not spend the time on your own, take the opportunity to catch up, hang out, and keep both of your spirits up.

5. Check Out of Your Home and Into a Hotel. Instead of sitting around the house being depressed about the fact that your kids aren’t there, switch up the scenery and head to a hotel in your hometown, or venture to a different city. Take a dip in the pool, sit in the sauna, hit the hot tub. Order room service and enjoy not having to cook…or clean…or anything. Live in the lap of luxury; even if it’s just for a day or two.

6. Snuggle Up with a Significant Other. If you’re seeing a special someone, take advantage of the free time and plan a day of romance, complete with a candlelight dinner.

7. Celebrate an Un-Holiday. Sometimes, the hardest part about not having your kids on the holidays is missing out on those special moments, like the turkey dinner on Thanksgiving, or opening gifts Christmas morning. So, break out your calendar and choose another date to celebrate.

However you choose to spend your holiday, remember that whether your kids are with you or not, you’re still their mother, they still love you, and before you know it, they’ll be back to stressing you out as usual.

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