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Many people are eager to get to a new year and put 2018 behind them. This could certainly be the case if this was the year you got divorced. 

However, first comes the holidays. And this season can be particularly difficult to navigate for the first time after divorce, especially if you are a parent. You and your children will likely be adjusting to difficult changes and experiencing some sadness, which can make the holidays less joyful than they have been or will be. Thankfully, there are numerous helpful tips for parents in this situation.

Fight the urge to overspend

Parents often feel like they can buy just the right gift or enough gifts for their children to make up for a difficult year, and some are willing to go in debt to do this. However, overspending on holiday gifts can create serious problems. It can create extensive financial problems from which it takes several months (or longer) to recover. 

Instead, focus on the experiences with your children. Spend time together and make happy memories, which are sure to last longer than any toy or game.

Honor traditions — within reason

Traditions can make kids feel comfortable and secure. However, after a divorce, some traditions might have to end. As such, parents shouldn’t take an all-or-nothing approach to traditions.

Instead, keep the traditions you can, like making holiday cookies together and visiting Santa. And if there are traditions you must let go of, consider replacing them with new ones or re-purposing them.

Manage expectations

Holidays in general can raise a child’s expectations; as a parent, you might feel inclined to try and meet or exceed these expectations, particularly this year. However, this can result in unnecessary stress and unrealistic standards.

Instead, communicate with your kids — and your ex, if you are on amicable terms. Talk about what might be different this year and discuss alternatives to expensive gifts. Having some insight and preparation can help everyone feel more at ease and less disappointed.

The first holiday season after divorce can be very difficult, especially when parents are still adjusting to custody agreements and parenting plans. One final note is a reminder that the holidays will be over soon enough. You and your children will get through this, and eventually you will find a new normal.