Is this your first Christmas as a separated parent? Not sure what to expect or how to handle your new family set-up. This blog offers pragmatic advice to help you keep your Co-Parenting Christmas, merry.
Plan ahead and don’t leave things to the last minute. Many separated couples use a parenting plan to make arrangements and avoid any stress, sometimes a year in advance. The advantage it is takes the sting out of negotiating and you can do it at a time when you’re on good terms. If you haven’t got a parenting plan, then be sure to agree to things early with plenty of time for everyone’s views to be heard and time to get used to the arrangements.
Christmas and new year is often a time for contemplation and can bring feelings of grief and ‘how things used to be’. The end of old traditions can be hard to get used to. This is your time to be creative and invent new ways of Christmassing. Involve your kids in planning the day, and focus on embracing change. Your energy and embracing of change will filter down to your kids.
If your children are old enough to tell you how they want to spend their day, then account for this, even if it feels unfair to you. Listen to what the kids want and try and accommodate their needs and wants. If your kids are too little, then consider splitting the time either on the day or over the Christmas period. However, avoid too much to-ing and fro-ing as this will cause stress especially if you live far apart.
Parents tend to be very sensitive to Christmas being a special day for their kids and want to do the right thing. Pressure from your kids to spend the day as a family can be huge and if you feel this is achievable then, by all means, do it. For many parents though, this just isn’t a good idea. Tension on Christmas day is just not good, especially for the kids. So be realistic – if spending the day or even a short time together will cause tension then don’t go there. Your kids will manage more easily with seeing you separately then seeing you angry or upset with each other.
If you aren’t going to be with your children this year, make your own plans, don’t sit at home. Embrace the day and be inventive – make it your alternative Christmas. Spend the day with friends or family or indulge in some me time. Many families, have multiple Christmas Days, so if that’s what works for you and your kids then make a plan and set a date to have your own Christmas Day together.
The key to an amicable Christmas is to remember that this time of year should be about your kids and forming safe, loving environments for them. If you want any ideas about planning your Christmas as a co-parent, join amicable’s online community for people going through divorce and separation.