Sure, the holidays are about celebration and seasonal joy, but there are plenty of stresses that go hand-in-hand with this time of year, from long lines and costly shopping expeditions to holiday traffic and meddlesome family members. For those of you navigating the holiday season while your ex-husband or ex-wife has custody of the kids, the holidays can be a particularly trying time. One of the most common child custody arrangements is to alternate holidays year-by-year, but just because it’s routine, doesn’t necessarily make it easier to cope. That’s why we’ve assembled a few tips and tricks to keep spirits high this December, no matter how you’re spending the holiday.

  1. Don’t Skimp of Self-Care
    With a little extra free-time, now is the perfect opportunity to rest up and indulge in some well-deserved pampering. San Diego is laden with opportunities to treat yourself to something special this holiday season. Get a massage, see a movie, spend time at the gym, buy yourself a new holiday outfit—however you treat yourself, try doing something just for you. All year long, you likely spend your time worried about work, the kids, family, household planning; why not take a day to do all the little things on your to-do list that are just for you?
  2. Employ Everyday Kindness
    Just as a little “me-time” can go a long way to make you feel refreshed amidst a hectic holiday season, practicing kindness and paying it forward can do wonders for your disposition. Around this time of year, there are ample opportunities to give back and/or volunteer throughout San Diego, and generosity is certainly in the spirit of the holiday. Bolster your mood and put some much-needed positivity into the world by practicing some everyday kindness this holiday season—you’ll sense your spirits lifting in turn.
  3. Create Your Own Holiday Experience
    Just because the kids may be elsewhere during the official holiday doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate it with them in San Diego on your own terms. You can still honor family traditions, exchange gifts, share a meal, and the like. In fact, it’s important that you and your children can experience the holiday together, even if your celebrations fall a few days before or after—it’s the spirit that counts, and your kids will appreciate the sentiment and opportunity to celebrate it with you. You can even invent some new traditions together, creating cherished memories in the process.
  4. Practice Empathy
    One of the best ways to get perspective during a tough time is to see the big picture and empathize accordingly. Remember, your ex-wife or ex-husband has likely gone a holiday or vacation without the kids, too, and has experienced much of what you may be feeling this year. Likewise, keep perspective: this isn’t the only holiday you’ll have a chance at with the kids, and you’re sure to appreciate the next one more than ever. Hold fast to the silver linings.

It’s certainly no easy feat to go a holiday season without loved ones, especially your children. But don’t forget to keep spirits bright and remember a few of these tips if you’re feeling listless or low. No matter how you decide to celebrate the holiday season, be good to yourself and others and end the year on a high note.