coParenting During the Holidays: Self-Care
The holidays are a time to celebrate with family and loved ones. But what happens when you are newly separated or divorced and the kids are with the other coParent for the holidays? What can you do to still bring in the holiday spirit in your own home – even if the children aren’t present? Sometimes being alone during the holidays can feel lonely especially if you are new to the coParenting world. Perhaps feelings of sadness, confusion and even bitterness can arise. But staying bitter will only cause more pain for yourself!
Trust me. I get it! Sometimes it may be hard at first to let the feelings of sadness and/or anger go. And I’m not saying to not feel and go through these emotions. It is so important to not invalidate our feelings or to sweep them under the rug, so to speak. It is ok to feel whatever it is that needs to come through.
In my book, “Taming Your Wild Child: 7 Proven Principles for Raising Connected and Confident Children”, I discuss this very topic in one of the chapters.
“Now invalidation is when you are told that your emotions, thoughts, and/or ideas are unacceptable or irrational. They are rejected, ignored, or judged. Invalidating someone means that their behavior is inappropriate and should be hidden and/or not expressed.”
It is critical to build and nurture open, honest communication with our kids by truly listening to them. By validating how our children feel, we are building trust and increasing their sense of self-worth.”
In the above quote, I was talking about how it is important to validate our children’s feelings. This same concept can be used for our inner child, as well. So if you are feeling sad or angry, then allow yourself time to process through these feelings. Yet do it in a healthy way! Do your best not to remain angry and resentful for longs periods of time. Because if you continue to simmer in this state of being – it only ends up harming you, no one else.
Have you ever heard of the saying: “Holding a grudge is letting someone live rent-free in your head”? That is exactly what is happening when we hold a grudge. It isn’t hurting the other person whatsoever. It is actually causing havoc in our own lives when we stay stuck in this recycled pattern of angst – which can actually be detrimental to our health and wellbeing.
Not to mention what are we teaching our children when we are holding on to anger towards the other coParent? What role model are we being when we are harboring these ill feelings? When we are talking badly about the other parent or even just showing distaste towards the other parent, our children can sense this negative energy. In essence, what we are unconsciously expressing to our children is that we don’t approve or love a piece of who they are when we talk poorly about the other parent.
When we put this all into perspective with how bitterness can affect our own health including our children’s wellbeing, perhaps what can be done is to discover healthy ways to release these feelings that no longer serve who you want to be.
So what could you do that can begin the healing process that instills self-care and self-love? The following are tips that can make way for improved health and peace of mind:
Practice Empathy through Forgiveness – forgiveness is key. When we let go of resentment, it can actually lessen the grip it can have on one’s thoughts of revenge and help free the space in your mind for things that truly matter. For instance, finding fun ways to connect with your child when you see them next or just as importantly, finding ways to create that deeper connection within yourself!
Spend Time with Loved Ones that Uplift You – if you can, spend time with family and friends that bring out the best in you. It’s important that you surround yourself with supportive people rather than being around people that bring you down or bring out the negativity towards the coParent. Perhaps even beginning a new tradition with others that might be alone for the holidays as well by opening up your home and having dinner together. Or finding a positive support group that you can go to.
Volunteer Your Time and Energy to Uplift Others – when we are of service to others and give back to the community, it can help us feel truly good about ourselves. There are many ways to pay it forward. Feeding the homeless, visiting a nursing home to sing carols and connect with the elderly, bringing a pot of nutritious soup to a sick friend, or planting trees with an organization are just a few examples.
Take a Road Trip – travel to a place that you’ve never been before and explore its culture. Or perhaps even getting out in nature and hiking can be very healing. When we take the time to put our devices down, unplug from social media, and re-connect to Mother Earth, it can help to drop the blood pressure, calm the body and mind and improve our outlook on life.
Read Self-Help Books and Actually Do the Work – There is something to be said when we get cozy and curl up to a good book – especially if it is a self-help book. But reading the book is only half of it. If we aren’t really doing the work on ourselves, then just reading the book can be pointless. So first, find a book that resonates with you. A couple of great books are: “The Real Rules of Life: Balancing Life’s Terms with Your Own” by Ken Druck and “Wakening Your Worth: Your Journey to Unlocking the Worthiness Warrior Within” by Debbie Shuman Espinoza. But remember – whatever book you decide to read during the holidays, be sure to really take the time to actually do the exercises in the book.
Learn to Be Alone vs. Being Lonely – This is a tricky one but really important when it comes to learning how to truly love ourselves. You know the old saying, “You can only love another if you fully love yourself”? There is so much truth in this. To take it even further with food for thought, no one else can fully love you more than you love yourself! Meaning that if you are not 100% into you, no one else will be either.
Fall in love with yourself – learning to be alone and discovering how to enjoy your own company is vital! Especially if you are a coParent, it can be challenging because we are always doing, doing, doing for our children and others. But this is a great opportunity to enjoy the time you do have alone and to be selfish. Not in the sense of being egotistical but getting self-centered and grounded.
Being by ourselves is a fine art and it takes practice – just like any art form does. Realizing that no one else can complete us is imperative! We are the only ones that can truly complete who we are and who we want to become. No one else can define this for us.
Unfortunately, through circumstances in life (perhaps from childhood), we tend to forget this truth and look outside of ourselves for acceptance, approval, and love. Hence, why I am so passionate about conscious parenting and sharing tools that create a deeper connection with our children where it harnesses a partnership of “power with” (rather than a relationship of “power over”); where the child feels empowered and knows their worthiness and doesn’t need to look anywhere else but within for their acceptance and love for who they are.
So during the holidays, to practice the art of being alone, perhaps the first step is having the willingness to find ways to enjoy yourself. When there is a willingness, there is a way. And once we discover fun and healing activities to do that empower our self-growth with a new way of being, we can then experience more happiness in our lives.