With the holiday period fast approaching, have you and your ex agreed what the children will be doing over Christmas?
Often, separated parents agree to alternate the immediate Christmas period each year, with children spending Christmas Eve night to Christmas day with one parent and then boxing day with the other on alternating years. This allows a child to enjoy Christmas morning with both their parents as they are growing up and allows parents to share in the joy too.
Other parents agree to share Christmas day so that their children have time with one parent in the morning and the other in the afternoon.
What do children want? Many children have a very simple and overwhelming sense of fairness which means they feel it is right for them to spend Christmas with each of their parents, alternating in one of the ways suggested above. But what children want most of all is the reassurance that whatever the arrangements are, their parents have agreed them and are not arguing about it.
What, in our experience are the most important things for parents to do when it comes to deciding the Christmas arrangements?
- Communicate suggestions and concerns well in advance. Don’t leave it to the last minute. We suggest arrangements should be agreed well in advance of your children finishing school for the Christmas break.
- Think about the logistics of where your children need to be and when- if there is a long journey between their parent’s homes, is it best for this to be done either side of the immediate Christmas period so that your children feel they have had a settled time with one of their parents.
- If you can’t agree, consider whether mediation might help you discuss opposing views and reach an agreement.
- Can you agree a pattern which works each year so that you can tell your children about this and they know what is going to happen every Chrsitmas.
For those who are newly divorced, the holidays can be a difficult time of the year.
Every year many former couples have to figure out how Christmas will be celebrated, especially if children are involved. It can be an immensely painful thing to do but at the same time, it’s an opportunity for new traditions and experience. There’s always a silver-lining, however, sometimes that’s easier said than done.
So, what can you do to survive Christmas? Here are some survival tips for the newly divorced:
Make a plan
What type of plan, you wonder? Make a list, of where you will be, with who, what you’ll be doing, what you’ll think about, and even what you won’t let yourself think about. The last two questions are especially important as you can easily get led on a path of melancholy and feeling sorry for yourself during the holiday period which no one wants to do. By making a plan and trying your best to follow it, you will be pleasantly surprised by the outcome.
Surround yourself with friends and family
If for some reason you don’t know where you’ll be or with who, then start getting busy and make plans. If possible, surround yourself with people, help others cooking and prepping for Christmas or go to the movies, anything that requires your attention with other people involved. It’ll help you get your mind off the fact that it’s your first Christmas without your family and it’s a chance for you to have as much fun as you possibly can.
Begin new traditions
Since basically everything in your life is changing right now, including Christmas traditions. Spend some time thinking about what you can do this year that is completely new, different as well as fun. Making a list of things that will keep your mind busy and that can be enjoyable with your children is a great way of testing and creating new traditions and it’ll also help your children come to terms with the new family circumstances. It can be things from going to the cinema to playing bowling, think outside the box as well as you can come up with great things to do with your children.
Taking these steps will help you get through the Christmas period with less anxiety and worries and feel proud of yourself for being able to tackle such a tough period.