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How To Survive The Holidays When Your Child Is With Their Other Parent

When my ex-husband mentioned the word'divorce, I was overwhelmed with sadness. At that point, it had less to do with my marriage ending and more to do with my 3-month-old daughter. I hated that my time with her would be cut in half, and that she'd have to split the holidays between us. It was terrifying to think about. No one wants to stay in a loveless marriage, but how are you supposed to survive the holidays when your child is with their other parent?

I don't think there's ever a perfect answer. You get divorced, you make a custody agreement, and you settle into your new routine, but sometimes it still feels wrong. Even if you and your ex have a perfect co-parenting relationship, there are few things that will be more heartbreaking as a divorced mom than spending a holiday without your babe. Of course, you probably already miss your child when they are with their other parent, but the holidays can bring a whole new sense of dread. Becoming a parent puts all of those special days into amazing technicolor, showcasing the magic and wonder to you all over again, feelings you haven't had since you still believed in Santa and made Turkey-themed crafts. The trick is to getting through the day without missing all of the fun and experiences of Thanksgiving or Christmas. You still have plenty to celebrate and these seven tips on surviving the holidays without your children can help you through the tough moments. (Trust me, there will be a few.)

1. Let Yourself Be Sad

It's OK to be sad that you're not with your child, so let those emotions run their course. They don't have to dictate the day, but you don't have to ignore them either. Allowing yourself to be sad, to cry, or to vent your feelings to someone can make you feel a lot better.

2. Remember That Your Kid's Happiness Comes First

Your kid is seeing cousins, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and maybe even siblings while with their other parent, and probably having a blast. Keep in mind that this day may not be as hard on them as it is on you, and it can help you get through the holiday.

3. Make Plans For Your Day

Whether it's with friends, family, or a solo spa trip, don't spend the day sitting at home, thinking about your kid. It's still a holiday and it's still a lot of fun, so do your best to get out there and enjoy it.

4. Remember That It's Not Forever

Depending on the type of custody schedule you and your ex have, you may only miss one holiday a year or alternae the days every year. Either way, it's important to remember that this situation doesn't last forever. Even if you've agreed to always let your child spend Thanksgiving with their other parent, that probably means you have a holiday that's all yours every year.

5. Celebrate Another Day

Who says Christmas has to be on the December 25? Pick a day on the calendar that works for you and go all out. Planning it while you're alone will perk you up and remind you that the season and magic doesn't rely on one day.

6. Facetime Your Kiddos

You don't want to take over your ex's time, but they shouldn't have a problem with you getting a little Facetime action with your kid. Ask them to show you their new toys, or just see their own happy faces as they spend Thanksgiving with their other parent. Hearing them and seeing them will make you feel much better about the situation, plus you can wish them a happy holiday and tell them how excited you are.

7. Talk Up The Holiday With Your Kid

Parenting is all about sacrifices, right? And a big one is keeping a happy face for your kiddo. Even if they're upset, you have to remain excited for them to see their other parent and remind them of how much fun they're going to have. You can let them know that you'll miss them, but if you're filling their head with worry over you or letting them be miserable at the thought of spending a holiday apart, it's going to be even harder for both of you.

Images:  David Goehring, coloredgrey, Philippe Put, Sandra Druschke, Nathan Bittinger, Golly G Force, Garry Knight, Rebecca L/Flickr