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How to Handle The Holiday's when Recently Divorced

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The first holiday during or after a divorce is rough. Things can go side ways quickly. Leh and Todd put together something to help you and the kids get through the holidays. By following their D.A.I.L.Y. reminders, you can set yourself up for success. D.A.I.L.Y. stands for - Days matter; Attitude; I, I, I (it is not all about you); Live in the moment; Y do you feel like you have to yell?

Leh Meriwether: Welcome everyone. I'm Leh Meriwether, and with me is Todd Orston. We are your co-hosts for Divorce Team Radio, a show sponsored by the Divorce and Family Law Firm of Meriwether and Tharp. Here, we learn about divorce, family law, and from time to time, even tips on how to save your marriage if it's in the middle of a crisis. If you want to read more about us, you can always check us out online at Todd, why do we do this every year?

Todd Orston: A show about the holidays, it's important. I mean, look, I don't want to overstate it, but we've seen a lot of people where if they don't give thought to issues that are going to come up during the holidays, they can get themselves into trouble. There's unnecessary conflict. I mean, for instance, I personally try to just jump on things early, right? I try to do things that are going to help my family, that will ultimately, of course, therefore help me. For instance, Thanksgiving is coming up. So, I've already put in my food order. I've told my wife everything I want to eat, because I'm sure she appreciates that. For the holidays, I've already given a gift list of what I want. I'm a giver, right? I'm trying to be helpful. All right, I can't even continue this. All right, joking.

Leh Meriwether: Oh, boy.

Todd Orston: The first part was out accurate, that, look, holidays should be fun. We've seen time and time again, where people just aren't thinking about the daily... I'm going to use the word, the daily routine things that need to get accomplished and they're not. It creates stress and can really ruin the holidays for people.

Leh Meriwether: Yeah, it's amazing, because every year for so many people, me included, it just feels like, "Man, the holidays just snuck up on me." But they happen at the same time every single year. So, although we missed this show last year, but we try to do this every year. We do a show about how you plan for the holidays, how do you do things that can improve your holiday experience even in the middle of a divorce. Maybe you're starting the divorce process or in the middle of it or maybe you just finished a divorce. What can you do to make your holiday experience a great one, all things considered, for you and the kids?

Because we're going to talk about how to plan for the holidays to help create new positive memories for your children, rather than nightmares they'll never forget. So, we, actually a few years ago, came up with a mnemonic to help you remember, and that is DAILY. So, what you can do daily or a daily reminder to help plan for the holidays, help improve your holiday experience. So, what does DAILY stand for, Todd?

Todd Orston: DAILY stands for days matter, attitude, I, meaning, it's I, I, I. It's not all about you, live in the moment. Finally, why do you feel like you have to yell?

Leh Meriwether: The number three one, I, that's something that you can definitely take to heart.

Todd Orston: I have no idea what you're talking about.

Leh Meriwether: It's funny you talk about the Christmas list. My kids, half the time, they're like, "Well, what do you want for Christmas?" I don't know. You're like, "Okay, you're not helping me, honey." And then days before or week before, you know what I'd really is I like this, especially this year. By that time, it's all going to be sold out.

Todd Orston: Yeah, jokes aside, I can't remember. I've never put together a gift list. That is ridiculous. But last year, my kids actually did well. I didn't get the socks or all the jokes about the gifts that a dad always gets. They got me a couple of things that I still enjoy to this day. So, if they're listening, do better.

Leh Meriwether: I would be surprised if they listen. Okay, all right. Let's get started. All right. So, the first one, days matter. While we can always make more money, we cannot make more time. If we allow our days to just happen to us, we'll turn around to see our kids just heading off to college. We'll go, "Where did all the time go?" So, what most don't realize is if they permit their schedules to create unnecessary stress in their life, I mean, most people allow things to happen. They allow their schedules just to happen. That creates unnecessary stress in their lives. Of course, most people have a negative reaction to this and they believe that the stresses are everyone else's fault.

People get so wrapped up with their business that they get exhausted at the end of the day and they get home. They're too tired to do anything, because they allowed too many things to happen during the course of the day. I mean, just think about how many times like you're running late and then you get out and you get on the road and there's an accident and you hit every single red light. So, it feels like the whole reason you were late was that where normally maybe you can get somewhere in 30 minutes, but today, you leave right at that 30-minute mark. You didn't leave early.

As a result, you get there late, because well, life happened on the way. You dealt with an accident. You dealt with several red lights rather than green lights. A little bit of planning, leave 15 minutes earlier than normal, and 99% of the time, you're okay.

Todd Orston: Yeah, and we get it. We understand you're working. We understand you have a lot of responsibility, but here's the thing. If you don't budget your time properly, then there are direct consequences. If you're not going through divorce, it can impact your relationship with your spouse. If you are either going through a divorce or you are post-divorce, it's going to impact your kids. It's going to impact in ways that hopefully could be avoidable if you were to just think of time in terms of budgeting.

Yes, you're working hard. Yes, your job takes a lot, but there has to be a moment some times where you can step away and say, "You know what? I'm going to keep working really hard, but I need to make some time for my kids. I need to even make some time for myself." Because if you don't take time for yourself, you're going to get exhausted. Ultimately, that exhaustion will impact your relationships.

Leh Meriwether: Right. So, let's get practical. Here's things that I have found most effective. Not only have I done them, but I've seen others that have done them that made a big impact. So, first thing is pull out a calendar. I like paper calendars to start with, just like the big old desk ones, because you can see everything. You write down every event that you can think of that is coming up between now and New Year's and then write it in pencil on the calendar because you may need to change it, but I'm talking about school events. Put on the calendar events that may be coming up, Thanksgiving holidays, the winter holidays or Christmas holidays, wherever you call them.

Is there a company holiday/Christmas party? Is there a family get-together that you know is coming up? Are there events going on at the school that are going to be important? Sometimes schools put on plays depending on the age of your children. Are your children in those plays? So put all that stuff, everything you can think of, put it on the calendar. If you know an event is coming up, then figure out when it's coming up and put it on the calendar, because you just don't want to find out about it last minute and then you're changing everything to make it to the event. That creates more stress for you that you can avoid by starting with this calendar. So, that's the first thing.

The second thing is once you've completed the calendar, reach out to your soon to be ex-spouse or ex-spouse. Ask them if the two of you can sit over some coffee one morning next week and let them know what you're doing. I'm trying to do a calendar and put all the events on it. I'd like to sit down with you and go over the calendar. So, obviously, either we can work off the same calendar. If you have a calendar, bring your calendar with you. I'm running everything in pencil in case I need to change something or we both need to change something to take into account our individual schedules. Let's sit down over coffee or breakfast or something and make sure we're both on the same page as to upcoming events.

So, doing that, you're all part of the same process. You're not excluding your spouse. You're part of the process, and then you can have an agreement as to what things are going to happen. That helps reduce the tension if you're in the middle of a divorce. Let me tell you also, you can save a ton of money, because you don't have to use your lawyers going back and forth on how you're going to handle the holidays.

Todd Orston: Yeah. One quick point before we go into a break, I understand that there are situations where there are people who are like, "I can't get along with my soon to be ex-spouse. We don't get along." I get it, but that doesn't mean you don't try, because it's a win-win. Either they are open to it and it becomes a very useful, helpful conversation, or they don't and you have evidence that you tried. So, at least try and it's going to benefit everybody.

Leh Meriwether: When we come back, we're going to talk about what kind of attitude can help improve the holidays.

I just wanted to let you know that if you ever wanted to listen to the show live, you can listen at 1:00 AM on Monday mornings, WSB. You can always check us out there as well.

Todd Orston: Better than counting sheep, I guess, right? You can turn on the show and we'll help you fall asleep.

Leh Meriwether: There you go.

Todd Orston: I'll talk very soft.

Leh Meriwether: Welcome back, everyone. This is Leh and Todd, and we are your co-hosts for Divorce Team Radio, a show sponsored by the Divorce and Family Law Firm of Meriwether and Tharp. If you want to read more about us, you can always check us out online at If you want to read a transcript of this show, you can find it at All right. If you want to listen to it again, you can find it wherever you get your podcasts. Okay, where were we? All right. So, we are talking about how a daily reminder can help improve your holiday experience. So, we're talking about how days matter and practical steps you can take to help avoid the stress of the holidays and get on the same page with your soon-to-be ex or ex-spouse.

Now, there's two more aspects of this before we move on to the next one. The first one is, if you're presently in litigation and you've worked out a calendar, hopefully, you've worked it out with your spouse. You can convert that into what's called a temporary parenting plan that the judge signs off on and it becomes an order that both of you are locked into. If there's some tension in the divorce, that's a really good step to take. If you know that you're stressed coming up, I mean, you can't reach an agreement, go ahead and prepare your calendar and hand it off to your lawyer. Because then your lawyer, I mean, we would hope that you all can avoid this, but maybe you can't.

So, you take your calendar, give it to your lawyer, and say, "Hey, here's what I'd like to do for a temporary parenting plan. Can you convert this into a parenting plan, pass it on to his lawyer, and see if the lawyers can negotiate a temporary agreement? So, we can get through the holidays without yelling and screaming at each other." So, that's something to consider, because that will help reduce stress and fighting over the course of the next couple months. Okay.

Todd Orston: Yeah, very quickly, I will say most of the fights that we witness are usually due to the fact that the parties are not communicating and they haven't done what we're suggesting. They haven't sat down, locked down some kind of an agreement in terms of basically what parenting time is going to look like, how responsibility is going to be shared, all of those types of things. That's when disagreements occur and true breakdowns occur.

Oftentimes, it gets to the point where the relationship, we already understand it's not great, you're going through a divorce, but co-parenting becomes impossible. Oftentimes, it's avoidable and all it takes is a little bit of pre-planning and communication. If you can just focus where you need to focus, you'll be able to hopefully avoid some major problems that will impact you, obviously, the other party, and more importantly, the kids.

Leh Meriwether: So, don't abandon your calendar too just because your spouse or soon-to-be ex-spouse or ex-spouse is being a royal pain in the butt. I mean, you still want to take control of your time, because you can't control the other person, the other parent. You can't. If you can get on the same page, great. If you can't, then take control of your time. Going back to your earlier point, Todd, create breathing room in your calendar. You're going through a lot right now with this divorce. Maybe you just got through the divorce and you need breathing room to decompress, because the emotional drain of the divorce process or being recently divorced is rough. You need time to recoup, build that into your calendar. I'm not kidding.

Put it on the calendar. Here's my break time. Maybe here's my counseling time, put that on there. And then here's something extremely important. When something else comes up that is not on your calendar, give yourself permission to say no. I mean, obviously, say it graciously, but say no. Because when you don't, then all of a sudden your calendar gets filled up and you've excluded your breathing room time. So, work hard to keep that breathing room in there. It's okay to say no to people.

Todd Orston: Yeah. The way I typically tell people or discuss this with people is, hopefully, any agreement that you reach, temporary, a permanent order, you're going to put that into some dark corners somewhere. You never have to look at it, because you and your spouse, your former spouse are co-parenting well. You can just work everything out. All right. That's great. But when we're talking about the ability to say no, you have to find that balance.

So, A, find balance where it's don't say no automatically to everything. All right. Be open to communicating and be open. If somebody calls you and is like, "Hey, my parents are coming in from out of town. It's a surprise visit. We're going to go to a play. I know it's your weekend. Can we swap?", that's reasonable. But the second part is it can't be a one-way road.

Leh Meriwether: I'm glad you brought that up, because when I was saying no, actually, I was talking about things on your calendar.

Todd Orston: Okay, got it.

Leh Meriwether: Hey, let's go out of town this weekend or let's go to this party, like the holiday party.

Todd Orston: Got it, got it. Yeah. I mean, the secondary part then would be, of course, in your communications, look, be open to discussing options when it comes to... I mean, put this plan in place absolutely, but remember, anything that is put in place, it's not written in stone. I mean, so much of what we're talking about, it's about communication, being open to communicate. It's setting your own schedule, discussing schedules with the other party, and being willing to entertain options if they're reasonable.

Leh Meriwether: Right. I'm glad you made that distinction, because in my head, like I said, I was talking about things that come up on your calendar. When you're dealing with the co-parent, you want to work with your co-parent. It's the holidays. You want to work together because things do change. But on your end, it's okay to say no to family and friends because you need that space. All right, let's talk about attitude.

Todd Orston: It's about time. I don't know if this is the right venue, but Leh, I have some bones to pick.

Leh Meriwether: Oh, well. We'll have to save that for later, because we're talking about everybody else right now.

Todd Orston: All right, all right. That's fair.

Leh Meriwether: We had Bill Butterworth. He's the author of New Life After Divorce. We had him on episode 102. So, that was a while ago. He talked about his first holidays, how difficult it was for him and the impact that had on his kids. Just remember that your kids are watching and the last thing you need for them to feel is that they have to become your counselor, because that's extremely uncomfortable for them, number one, and number two will have a negative impact on them long term. Let me be clear, I'm not saying, this is easy. But in some cases, you almost have to force yourself through this process and just take a moment to look for the positive in things. It's extremely difficult. I'm not saying it's not difficult, but I'm saying it will have a long term impact on you and the kids.

Shawn Achor wrote this book called The Happiness Advantage. One of the quotes that I liked was, "In the midst of a crisis, we can get so stuck in the misery of the status quo that we forget another path is possible." So, you're caught in the misery of your divorce or recent divorce. It's just easy to just say, "Oh, woe is me." But if you work hard towards seeing the positive opportunities and certain situations, then it literally shifts your mindset. In his book, he has a ton of research about this, that this is not something we're making up. That when someone gets stuck in a negative mindset, their brain is quite literally incapable of seeing positive opportunities. But armed with positivity, however, the brain stays open to possibility. Psychologists call this predictive encoding.

So, you actually have to prime yourself to expect a favorable outcome and that actually encodes your brain to recognize the outcome when it does in fact arise. So, when a happy event occurs during the holidays, you can enjoy it, because you recognize it because you have tried to shift your brain thought process from negative to positive. It's not involuntary. Meaning you have to think about it. You have to do it on purpose. That helps fight off potentially depression, being angry all the time, snapping at people. Again, I'm not saying it's easy, but sometimes creating a positive mindset means you have to create it. You have to do it.

Todd Orston: Absolutely. You can't allow a negative other party to set the low bar. Meaning, they may just be chock-full of negativity. They may be shutting down in their communication. You can allow it to do one of two things to you. It could either just beat you down to the point where you also become negative or you could say, "You know what? I'm going to still give it effort, but at the end of the day, I'm not going to let you ruin the holidays." You can focus on the positive and continue to focus on communication.

Leh Meriwether: When we come back, we're going to talk about what the I in DAILY means.

Todd Orston: Hey, everyone, you're listening to our podcast, but you have alternatives. You have choices. You can listen to us live also at 1:00 AM on Monday morning on WSB.

Leh Meriwether: If you're enjoying the show, we would love it if you could go rate us on iTunes or wherever you may be listening to. Give us a five-star rating and tell us why you like the show.

Welcome back, everyone. This is Leh and Todd, and we are your co-hosts for Divorce Team Radio, a show sponsored by the Divorce and Family Law Firm of Meriwether and Tharp. If you want to read more about us, you can always check us out online at If you want to read a transcript of this show or go back and listen to it again, you can find it at and you, of course, can listen to our podcast wherever you get podcasts. Hopefully, wherever. I think we're everywhere.

Todd Orston: Everywhere.

Leh Meriwether: Everywhere. All right. So, today, we're talking about how a daily reminder can help improve your holiday experience. DAILY is actually an acronym for some points we're trying to have everyone remember as they go through a painful process such as divorce. So, we're on attitude. We're going to wrap that up, so we get to the I part of DAILY. So, there's just a few other tips to help focus on the happy times, which again, I'm not saying it's easy, but it is worth fighting for. Okay?

Take out time every morning, sometimes you can do a gratitude journal. Work to find what you can be thankful for. That changes your perspective throughout the day, especially if you're having a rough time. Take five minutes out at lunch to do the same thing, maybe at night. Write them down in a notebook. Like I said, everyone I've talked to that actually has done this exercise, they talk about how it was extremely difficult at first. But as they kept doing it, it really did change their attitude. So, no matter where you are, there's typically someone somewhere else in worse shape than you. I try to avoid the comparison, but I mean, it's a reality.

If you drive a car with heat in it, I mean, this is a relatively new invention throughout history. Just go back 100 years and people riding in carriages pulled by horses to go somewhere with no heat. So, in the middle of winter when it was freezing cold or raining, they were freezing going from one location to the other. We can hop in our cars. I mean, sometimes it has to be something as simple as that to get things going for you. It could be I'm thankful to have heat in my house. I'm thankful I'm not living out in the rain. I'm thankful my car has its own house. I mean, maybe your car doesn't have a house, but I mean, look for little things. I'm thankful I had coffee this morning. And then that's one thing.

And then the other thing that I've noticed but it sounds weird, but random acts of kindness. Sometimes random acts of kindness, like helping someone else out so they don't even know about it, can bring a smile on your face. Even when you're having a bad day, I'm going to help this other person out, even though I'm having a bad day. It helps you to stay on that positive wagon. You know what? If you fall off of it, then pick yourself up. Don't have a pity party.

Todd Orston: Don't give up.

Leh Meriwether: Don't give up. Dust yourself off and get back on the positive wagon.

Todd Orston: I am feeling so positive right now, Leh. I am pumped with positivity. I'm joking. I mean, I am, but all right. Let's go on to something I like talking about, which is I, I, I. No, I'm kidding, but I, I, I deserve better. I have to win this fight. I, I, I. Well, guess what? It's not all about you. Where we see a lot of breakdowns occurring, where we see kids being affected, usually, it's because someone has made it an I, I, I kind of situation. They've made it all about their pain. They've made it all about their anger. When that happens, someone's going to have to pay that price. Usually, if there are kids involved, it's the kids. So, here's some things to think about. All right. We've broken it down, three things. All right.

Number one, when you focus too heavily on your spouse out of this feeling of anger, this feeling that you have to win and the decisions, basically, he or she is making, that you need to win that fight, you'll lose focus on the truly important things, like your personal health and happiness, and again, the health and happiness of your kids. All right. Leh, you touched on this earlier. You can't control your spouse. All right. Don't try. But you can control how you react to your spouse or former spouse. Focus on you, focus on your reaction. Focus on other people in your circle, like your kids, and everyone's going to be healthier for it.

Number two, there are going to be more holidays, including ones far in the future with grandkids. So, focus on the kids, not on your spouse again. I always say this, it can't be a one-way road. But be open to discussion. If your kids say, "Well, I want to stay over here one more day because my friends are in that neighborhood," be open to that conversation. Focus on your children and your children's needs. Can it be a one-way road? No. If your kids are like, "Hey, I just want to stay over here the entirety of a holiday," I get it. It's not fair. It's not reasonable and it's also probably not healthy.

But again, if you focus on the kids, if you focus on their needs, they're going to have a better holiday, they're going to build better memories. You're going to enjoy that holiday and your children far more. So, the divorce process, it's going to be complicated and it's going to take a lot of work for you to navigate through the process. But understand, it's okay, it's okay to communicate and be open to discussions and to take that mental break during the holidays. So, you're not just caught up in that anger.

Number three, create a conflict-free zone for your sake and the sake of your children. Now, what does that mean? I'm not a therapist, but I will tell you, you need to build almost like a bubble. I understand you're angry. I say this all the time. You're frustrated, you're hurt. Whatever emotions you're feeling, I am certain I could multiply by 10 and still not truly get what you're feeling. But you have to put that aside. Create a safe space for yourself, a safe space for your kids. Again, everyone's going to be healthier for it.

Leh Meriwether: Right, well said. All right. So, now, the next one, as you follow these steps, this is going to allow you to help live in the moment. So, now we're on L of DAILY. Be present with your kids, especially during this tough time. They'll remember the positive moments over the gifts 9 times out of 10. If you have any doubts, read the book The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. These are two brothers who discovered some amazing things when they did research on the power in moments and how there's more memories from certain moments than things.

I go back to think about my Christmases over the years, I don't have any memories of presents, Todd, but I do remember moments that I've had with family and friends. I remember when I was growing up, we would get presents and I'd go with my friends in the neighborhood. We would play with the presents we got. But I don't even remember what we were playing with. I just remember having fun with my friends.

I remember riding with my parents to go to my grandparents' house and open presents together. I remember that being fun, but I don't remember the presents I opened. I just remember that experience. I mean, I know some people may remember certain presents that got them excited, but I mean, holistically, I don't really remember any of them. I don't know about you.

Todd Orston: No, I agree. I mean, I'll let you know after this holiday. I did put a Ferrari on my list to my kids. If I get it, I'm going to remember that. I'm not going to lie. It may be outside of their budget, but if they can swing it without committing any major crimes, then I'm going to remember that. But other than that, no, I agree with you. When I start to think back, items that I have, I don't remember sometimes where I got it. I mean, big things, obviously, I might remember someone gave. I don't remember if it's a birthday or if it was another holiday. But do I remember the trips that I took? Do I remember taking my kids over the Christmas holiday to a waterpark and experiencing those types of events?

I agree with you. That's where the memories are. We have long lives, but they're also short relatively speaking. We only have so many Christmases and Thanksgivings and birthdays and whatever. You don't want to ruin them or allow them to be ruined. So, if you can focus on the things that matter, the things that are truly important on the health of the other people around you and the happiness, then your life will be much fuller, I believe.

Leh Meriwether: Yup. When we come back, we're going to continue talking about how we can focus on living in the moment when we come back. I just wanted to let you know that if you ever wanted to listen to this show live, you can listen at 1:00 AM on Monday mornings on WSB. So, you can always check us out there as well.

Todd Orston: Better than counting sheep, I guess, right? You can turn on the show and we'll help you fall asleep.

Leh Meriwether: There you go.

Todd Orston: I'll talk very soft.

Leh Meriwether: Welcome back, everyone. This is Leh and Todd, and we are your co-hosts for Divorce Team Radio, a show sponsored by the Divorce and Family Law Firm of Meriwether and Tharp. If you want to read more about us, you can always check us out online at If you want to read a transcript of this show or other, you can find it at Of course, you can listen to past shows wherever you get your podcasts.

All right. Well, today, we are talking about a daily reminder that can help improve your holiday experience. DAILY is a mnemonic to help you remember five points that if you can help remember these, it will help you have a better holiday experience for you and your children, especially if you're going through a divorce or have recently finished up a divorce process. Okay. When we left off, we were talking about living in the moment.

Well, one of the things that can pull us out of living in the moment, we've seen this in divorce cases, is a competition to buy the fanciest gifts. In the heat of the battle, we can focus on the wrong things. We've seen people fight over getting the best gift for the kids to win their affection over or maybe even help them feel better. We give them better gifts to help them feel better about this divorce process. But as I said, when you actually look at the research, it's moments that the kids remember that are so impactful, not necessarily gifts. I mean, I'm not saying you don't buy gifts, but I wanted to talk about a few points that can help this process.

So, first, try to coordinate with the other parent, your co-parent about gifts for the children at least a month in advance, because you want to try to avoid trying to outspend them or out-gift each other. I mean, two things happen. One, it can make the kids feel uncomfortable, that one parent may have spent more than another. Maybe not in the moment, but long term, it can make them feel uncomfortable, because you feel like they're being caught in the middle, which you don't want to happen. I think that the kids have a Christmas list and one of the best things to do is split that Christmas list, because then they don't feel like they're being pulled one way or another.

The other thing is when you try to outspend the other spouse, you wind up putting yourself in debt because you're already spending money going through the divorce process and that only adds to the problem. Here's another point, try having your child make a gift for the other parent or take them shopping for a gift for their mother or father. You can make it a tradition. It sends the child a positive message of respect and it also sends a positive message to your spouse. You're creating positive moments in this. Consider an example of the proverbial olive branch, a reach across the aisle that shows a desire to cooperate. It also tells the child that the other parent is important in their life, because you're taking them out to help them shop for a gift for their mother or father. Okay.

Todd Orston: Yeah, absolutely.

Leh Meriwether: Don't go into debt buying other's presents for the holidays, because that adds stress that can bleed over into the next year. If you're going to spend some money, go to a stationery store and buy some nice stationery. I know that may sound weird, but write handwritten heartfelt letters to those around you. Especially if your finances are being dragged down by this divorce process, write letters. Just let them know how much you appreciate friends in your life and family in your life. Write them by hand. Don't type them. Write them by hand. I mean, I know as a boss, I love receiving thank you cards for creating a positive work environment. I like that more than a physical gift.

If you're concerned you're going to give a gift and you would feel guilty for not giving someone a gift, then email them shortly after Thanksgiving. Let them know that in general terms, you can't afford an exchange of gifts this year. So, if there's someone you normally exchange gifts with, let them know. Look, hey, finances are tight this year. I just want to let you know, I can't afford to do a gift exchange this year. Instead, can we do something like schedule a holiday breakfast or lunch? I'd rather just have a good conversation with you over a cup of coffee or lunch, rather than exchanging gifts. I'd rather spend our money on food.

Todd Orston: Great points. Great points. You know why?

Leh Meriwether: Why?

Todd Orston: Because why, that is the next question. More specifically, why do you feel like you have to yell? Let's talk about that in the time that we have left. Here's the thing. All right. Again, emotions are running high. You're upset, angry, sad, all those emotions. So, when you start to get mad, ask yourself that question. Why? Why am I getting angry? Why am I allowing myself to get angry? Why am I allowing the other person to get me this angry? And then start to ask questions about why you are reacting the way you're reacting. So, learn the difference between reacting and responding.

The biggest difference between a reaction and a response oftentimes is the amount of time you put in between the one and the other, the stimulus and the response. Somebody says something to you. That's the dumbest idea I've ever heard. Oh, yeah. Well, you're just an idiot. Well, that's probably not very constructive and you have reacted. It doesn't have to be an immediate response. Sometimes silence can be a better response. In our practice, oftentimes, I mean, we'll get something from an opposing party. We'll get something from an opposing counsel sometimes. Our blood starts to boil. We have policies in place, walk away, take a deep breath, count to 10, play with Legos, whatever you have to do, okay?

Calm down before you send your response, because it should be a response, not a reaction. Sleep on it. If it's an email, acknowledge I received it, but don't give a full response until you are calm and you're in a better mindset. Just remember, sometimes, if something happens at the end of the day, we suffer something called ego depletion. If you respond at night after you had a day dealing with your own stresses at work, at home, you don't have potentially the ability to give a rational response. You may only be able to react. Sleep on it. You wake up, you're refreshed. Your ego pool is deeper. You can then calmly react or rather respond.

Leh Meriwether: Right, yeah. So, like your example you gave, that's the dumbest idea ever. Oh, yeah. You're just an idiot. That's reacting right there. So, again, let's say the other side said something stupid, dumbest idea I've heard. Whatever has happened on their end, you actually have an opportunity to deescalate the situation. You've heard me mention on the show before, Crucial Conversations is a great book on that subject, but here's an example of how to deal with something like that. That's the dumbest idea I've ever heard. You know what? You may be right. I was just throwing something out there. What thoughts do you have? So, you give this very open-ended response.

Maybe they give you the dumbest idea you've actually ever heard and you say, "Oh, okay, I'm not sure I follow your idea. What do you mean by that? Walk me through some of the logistics of your idea. So, you want to pick Johnny up from school on that day at 5:00. You're like two hours from his school. I thought you didn't get off until 5:30. Can you get off earlier?" So, you do it as a question. Your tone of voice, your attitude will make a difference in how they respond, whether they react or respond to that. So, don't do it in an incredulous way. Do it in an acquisitive way. That helps you respond to a statement rather than react to it.

Todd Orston: Very quickly and just very, very quickly, just remember, everything you do and say can be used against you in the future.

Leh Meriwether: Exactly.

Todd Orston: A judge in a future case might see, so if you react in a way where you're saying, "Well, that's just stupid." Well, it could be the dumbest thing ever. It really could. It could just be dumb, but you don't need to say it. React calmly, because at some point, a judge might see that reaction and go, "Yeah, that was pretty dumb, but wow, you handled that well."

Leh Meriwether: Yeah, exactly. So, why do we say asking yourself, "Why do I feel like I need to yell?" or that why question? Sometimes a stupid statement can cause fight or flight. You want to stop talking or you just want to fight back. It's a natural reaction. But when you force yourself to ask a question like that, what it does is trigger another part of your brain to think through that and allow you to calm down. So, once again, the mnemonic is DAILY. Days matter; Attitude; I, I, I, it's not about you; Live in the moment; and Why. Why do you feel like you have to yell? If you can remember that mnemonic, you can have a better holiday experience for you and your kids. Okay, everyone, thanks so much for listening.