I have done divorce hearings on the day that should be its opposite: Feb. 14, St. Valentine’s Day. The irony does not escape my clients. I am sure they will always recall the DATE of their divorce and find the holiday bittersweet as a result. The truth is that this holiday can be trying for people who are divorcing, breaking up or newly divorced. The following are tips to make the most of the day despite this challenge.
- Ask your former partner for extra parenting time. If your partner is remarried, in a relationship or newly dating, they may jump at the chance for a night out. Make it a fun holiday with the kids including baking some cookies, a fun movie, a red meal or making valentines. While everyone else rushes to expensive restaurants, go the family-oriented places that are empty. Or just stay home. Even if you are in a relationship yourself, enjoying a “fancy” meal at home with the kids can be twice the fun, save you money and avoid the hassle of booking an expensive night out.
- Plan a Galentine’s/Palentine’s Night. Fans of “Parks and Recreation” may be familiar with Leslie Knopes’ Galentine’s Day for singles.I have fond memories of getting together, going out for a meal and exchanging cards with other newly single women myself while going through my divorce. Instead of commiserating, we had a great time and exchanged some of the most thoughtful Valentine’s gifts I have ever received. Even catching a game or a movie with a friend can take the pang out of spending this night alone.
- No Access to Your Kids? Make some cash and baby sit. For some parents, this night is a doubly painful night. Not only do they lack a significant other, but for various reasons, they may not have access to their children as well. It may sound counter-intuitive, but baby-sitting can make you a little bank and also keep your mind off things. Kids have a way of taking your mind off of everything but them. A great distraction!
- Hang out with your family of origin. Not many of us think about our own parents on Valentine’s Day, but time together may be a treat for them if they do not have plans of their own. Offer to bring over takeout food and serve them a romantic meal, watch a movie and then take off. They will love it just as they love you, and that is what the holiday is about. You may feel like enemy No. 1 with your ex, but your own parents still see you with stars in their eyes and that feels good. Just don’t spend the night bringing each other down by grousing about the person who broke your heart.
- Volunteer. Believe it or not, this is some of the best relief for depression and self pity. You cannot feel sorry for yourself if you are doing good for someone else. There are a lot of opportunities such as volunteering to hand out Valentine’s at a nursing home or senior center. They may even need chaperones or entertainers for a seniors ball. Animal shelters and other nonprofits may need help on this holiday or perhaps you can direct traffic for a free concert held that night. If a local shelter is offering a special meal, help them out. Volunteering has always been my go-to option when no other social opportunities are available. It has never failed to deliver when it comes to lifting my spirits.
- Netflix and chill for one. I can’t speak for guys but a lot of women actually enjoy staying home alone for a cheesy Hallmark movie, relaxing bath or facial, good book and forbidden comfort food such as a pint of ice cream or big bowl of popcorn. Catch up on that game you know you should not be playing on your phone. Before you know it, the night is over.
- House of worship/meditation/lecture. This year, Valentine’s Day is also Ash Wednesday. Many people may choose to observe that over the traditional date night out. Some who practice Judaism have concerns about the belief system of St. Valentine and routinely object to celebration of any kind. Other religions may also offer a Wednesday night option or, for those who do not practice a religion, you may find a cool lecture, Meet Up or other organized activity. You may notice a lot of other singles there too if that is a goal.
- Wear yourself out during the day. If we had snow, this would be a prime time to take a day off to ski and then pass out exhausted that night. Instead, maybe take a day of hiking and enjoying the great outdoors before crashing for the night. Soon enough it will all be over — and think of the money you’ll have saved!
Each to his or her own, but I do not really recommend going grocery shopping, out to a restaurant alone, even to the gym IF you are the sort of person who gets depressed doing these things when everyone else is having a date. I remember being alone one Valentine’s Day and taking my kids to McDonald’s — totally depressing for me. You may feel otherwise and, if so, go at it. To each your own!
CHALLENGE: I would love to hear your ideas for Valentine’s Day. Send yours to firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to win a $15 Starbucks gift certificate and for your idea to be published in a future Andersen Law PC newsletter.