5 Tips to Survive Holiday Separations

December 19, 2011 · 16 comments

The holidays alone

A couple of days ago my children left on their first trip without me.

My husband and I separated earlier this year (I will write more about this later, and yes, it’s one of the reasons I didn’t keep up with my blog for a while). While much of this has been difficult, nothing has been harder for either of us than being away from the kids for the holidays. I got them for Thanksgiving, and he took them to see his family in Ohio for Christmas.

It sucks.

However, I try to make the best of even the worst situations, so here goes: my top 5 ways to survive being away from your kids for the holidays.

1. Stay busy

There was no question that when my boys got tickets to Ohio, I was getting a ticket to somewhere. I didn’t want to stay at home by myself and be lonely. So I’m flying to Florida to see my parents, and I’ve packed my schedule full of activities I love to do. If I’m bored I know I will wallow in my loneliness and guilt, so my goal is to not let it happen. And on the positive side, it’s been more than three years since I’ve had time to myself anyway, so I’m going to take full advantage of it with things that aren’t easy to coordinate with two little ones – like scuba diving and sailing and some nighttime fun.

2. Be flexible

While I would love to get on the phone and Skype with my little ones during the times it’s convenient for me (when I wake up, before I have dinner, a quick minute between errands), I have to remember they’re busy with their dad and his family. They have their days filled up with relatives who haven’t seen them in years, and grandparents that want to play with them, and sightseeing trips to all kinds of exciting destinations. If I want to talk to them and see them, I need to remember to be ready for when they have a moment, and not count on them to squeeze in regular appointments during a special trip like this.

3. Make memories

Since I know it isn’t easy to coordinate regular phone calls and Skype sessions, I decided to port myself to where they are, on demand. I made video recordings of me reading a stack of their favorite books, and then posted them to YouTube, and also a video just to tell them how much I love them and miss them. It’s not the same as interacting with them, but at least if they get lonely they can see my face and hear my voice reading something familiar anytime, anywhere (thanks to laptops and smartphones). Another benefit is it allows them to keep up part of their bedtime routine in an otherwise unfamiliar environment.

4. Remember it’s not all about you

This was the hardest thing for me as this situation unfolded, but once I accepted it, it’s been the most freeing. My kiddos are having a big adventure with a capable parent, surrounded by a big family that adores them and is thrilled to see them for the holidays. I miss them terribly, and I want to cuddle with them and smother them with kisses, but they don’t need to know how painful this is for me. What’s going on between their dad and me is an adult problem, and my boys don’t need to feel the weight of it. While I would do anything to be with them, I can’t change it, and moping and reminding everyone of how sad I am doesn’t make it a better holiday for anyone (including me).

5. Find joy in what’s around you

While my ideal situation would be to spend the holidays with my boys, I can’t pretend there aren’t a lot of positives to my Christmas plans. I will be with my parents, and my sister and her family, in a beautiful location with many friends. I will be able to go on adventures that aren’t easy to coordinate with two little ones, and I have friends and family who love me, and are thinking of me and praying for me. I know not everyone is so fortunate when they’re away from their children, but I believe something good can be found in even the dreariest circumstances. Even if it’s rock bottom, it means better days are coming.

I hope you all have restful holidays with people that love you, and I will see you again in the new year. Merry Christmas and lots of love!

Photo credit: livingonimpulse

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Melanie December 19, 2011

Powder sugar beaches don’t hurt either. ;)

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2 Suchada @ Mama Eve December 19, 2011

No, I’m incredibly fortunate to be with my parents for many reasons (the most important being their love and support for me), but their living near “the most beautiful beach in the U.S.” is an added bonus :)

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3 janetlansbury December 19, 2011

This friend is thinking of you and praying for you, too. Have a lovely time, Suchada, and thanks for sharing from the heart (as always). Hugs, Janet

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4 Suchada @ Mama Eve December 19, 2011

Thank you Janet! Knowing that I have so much love and support has helped me move through all of this.

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5 Jennifer @ kidoing! December 19, 2011

I’m thinking of you Suchada and wish you peace during this time. Hugs.

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6 Suchada @ Mama Eve December 19, 2011

Thank you Jennifer! I feel like I’m at a good place right now (I wouldn’t have had the strength to write about it if I wasn’t) because we’ve gone through a lot of really difficult stuff already. We’re still working on what the future looks like, but I am ever thankful that he and I truly want to be the best parents we can be for our boys.

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7 Jessica The Leaky Boob December 19, 2011

I’m thinking of you, I can’t imagine how hard this must be. Your strategy sounds great, I’ll be sharing with some friends encountering their first Christmas without their kids. Hang in there and I hope you are able to enjoy the holidays for the new experience they present you this year.

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8 Suchada @ Mama Eve December 19, 2011

Thank you Jessica! It really, really helps to know my boys are in good hands. Their dad and I have done *a lot* of work together to make sure we’re putting the boys first as we figure out what comes next, and I’m so thankful we can do it with true respect for each other. I have no doubt that it’s been because of the thoughts and prayers of those who know and care about us, and I know it’s what will help us move forward. Thank you so much for sharing this on your page; I hope it can bring some peace to others as well.

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9 ELIZABETH December 19, 2011

Oh dear, I found your blog through leaky boob’s facebook page and I have to say I know how you feel! My DD’s dad left me when I was preggo and have hated having to be away from my baby ever since she was born. She went on her first big trip without me the weekend before Thanksgiving, and I was devastated. The guilt, not to mention the anger I felt towards him for causing that situation was huge. You really don’t think when you decide to have a baby that you will eventually be spending half of their life away from them. It’s the hardest thing to have to do as a mother. I feel for you and you’re in my prayers!

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10 Jenny December 19, 2011

I go through this every other Christmas and it is hard. You have made some great points. You are doing so well with it. You truly see what is best for your kids. It’s hard being selfless through the holidays. Take care.

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11 Brooke December 19, 2011

I was sent here through TLB. So sorry to hear about your seperation. I have been in your shoes before and it does get less painful and hard. It never stops hurting for us moms, but the sadness numbs a bit as the kids get older and you all get used to the new way of life. It is wonderful that their dad and you can get along for the good of the kids. This is the key. Sadly 4years later and I still have to deal with my ex husbands childish antics. If everyone keeps in mind who this really effects then everything will work better for years to come. Enjoy your holiday and have fun! -Brooke

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12 Jeanie@Simply Stated December 19, 2011

Suchada!

Another beautiful and practical post from the mind of the master! Thanks so much for sharing.

I sent you something this morning to your parents’ address~so be watching for it.

A most Happy Christmas to you!

With my love & prayers,
~jeanie.

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13 L December 19, 2011

This made me very emotional. I come from divorced parents, and although I am fine and never complained about their divorce, I never ever even thought about how my mom felt when I would go to my dad’s on the weekends. Wow. My heart is aching for her. Thank you for opening my eyes.

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14 Aunt Annie's Childcare December 19, 2011

Been there, done that, and I feel for you so much. It is really one of the hardest things I have EVER had to do.

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15 Nicola December 20, 2011

What an excellent post! I love the idea about posting some videos to YouTube for them to watch if they’re missing you. I’ll be sending my guy off for his first solo trip this summer. Two weeks with the grandparents while my husband and I try to celebrate our 10 year anniversary as two adults hiking the Maritimes — and not miss the 8 year old like crazy!

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