As every child that comes from a split family knows, navigating the holidays can be difficult. You want to spend Thanksgiving with both sides of your family equally, and it's frustrating to have to interrupt what is supposed to be your "relaxing time" with complicated schedules.
Additionally, you feel as if you're always missing out on fun family time because you only get to spend half a day with each side. As I got older and went to college, I don't follow the same strict custody schedule I used to. It's nice because I get to move around at a pace that works for me.
At the same time, though, it can sometimes be more stressful because it's up to me to make sure I'm spending relatively equal amounts of time with each parent. It's harder than it looks.
For a holiday like Thanksgiving with such a short break, it can be difficult to divide time evenly. It's problematic that the break is centered around one meal, happening in two places at the same time, on the same day.
Regardless of how this makes you feel, you have to do what you have to do. These are the tips and tricks I've picked up over the last 15 years about how to survive and enjoy Thanksgiving with divorced parents.
Don't let stress ruin your break
As my friends and boyfriend can confirm, I spend a good amount of time in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving break panicking about where and when I'll be spending each day and night. No matter how I do the math, it's impossible to perfectly split up the five nights of break.
My parents continually tell me that it's not about making it even, and all they care about is getting to spend what time they can with me. So, as much as I might fret leading up to break, I try to not let that have an effect on my time at home.
The Thanksgiving break is a needed breather before finals begin, so I want to spend that time relaxed and happy, not worried and stressed. Instead of stressing, I try to make the time I spend with my parents count.
Make time for things not family-related
When you have divorced parents, there's extra pressure to spend as much time with with them as you can, especially when you're only home from college a few times a year. But, it's important to still make time for yourself and your friends to stay sane.
I use my workouts as my "me time". Whether it's walking my dog or running on the trails by my house. Exercise is also a known mood-booster, so it helps erase any stressful feelings I may be having about Thanksgiving. It's also a good way to get out of the house without hurting anyone's feelings.
Thanksgiving break is also one of the only times that everyone from high school is home at the same time, so it's important to take advantage of that and catch up with your high school friends. Seeing friends is also a good way to break out of the family bubble.
Remember the perks
Although people without divorced parents may think that having to split up Thanksgiving is the worst thing in the world, it isn't that bad in reality. In fact, in some ways I think getting not one but two Thanksgivings surrounded by the people I love most is actually a blessing.
The most obvious reason is that I get to eat two Thanksgiving dinners. Double the stuffing, double the mashed potatoes, double the pumpkin pie. I would be crazy to not look forward to a double dose of home-cooked food, especially after a semester of nearly inedible dining hall food.
Having separate family dinners is a great way to escape if you need to. Don't get me wrong, I cherish every minute, but sometimes family time can get overwhelming. There's no better reason for leaving a family event early than going to a different family event.
Most importantly, I am lucky to spend Thanksgiving with two groups of people that I love. Even though it can sometimes be annoying to run between the two, I ultimately am grateful to have two families that love me and want to spend the holiday with me. Isn't that what Thanksgiving is all about?