Five tips for handling the Christmas period as a newly separated parent
So, while many families are making lists (and checking them twice), cementing Christmas party plans, and finding that elusive perfect outfit, separated parents also have the worry of "what are we doing with the kids?". When the holidays hit, it is easy for a newly separated parent to be caught up in seasonal angst and new unchartered territory, so here are five tips for navigating your first Christmas solo. Put the kids first and compromise Many parents immediately think that the fairest way to manage Christmas Day is to split it down the middle (i.e. changeover at midday at a halfway point). However, when it comes to holiday scheduling and how time is shared between households, don’t focus on what’s fair between you and your ex-partner but what works best for the kids. Whilst at the outset this may appear to be in the best interests of the children, it is important to remember that what may feel fair for Mum and Dad, may not be best for kids.
Consider alternating the arrangements each year, where one parent enjoys the majority of Christmas Day and the other parent then Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve. Whilst it may be hard for the parent who is solo on Christmas Day that particular year, why not use the opportunity to create a second Christmas Day celebration on another day. You don’t want to spend the day rushing from one event to another, or subjecting your kids to potentially hostile changeovers.
Cement your plans early
Don’t wait until the week before Christmas to raise arrangements with your ex-partner. Have discussions as far in advance as possible so that both parents and children know what lies ahead. Do not add further stress by trying to sort it out last minute as this will likely heighten tensions. Hopefully some sensible discussions may lead to an agreement being reached about this day.
Communicate with your kids
Once an agreement has been reached, communicate these with the children in order to show a united front and reduce any worry they may have about splitting their time between parents on Christmas. Make it a competition free zone – it’s tempting to overcompensate or show off when it comes to the day’s festivities and the kids’ presents.
Make new traditions
Along with how events will be scheduled, discuss with your kids about
what the holidays will look like – what will be different and what will stay the same. Brainstorm which traditions they would like to keep and where the family can embrace new ones. If Christmas Day isn’t going to be at your place, arrange a Christmas Eve party or a Boxing Day adventure.
If your children are still in early years, decide where Santa’s stop will be. Explain how Santa and his reindeers only have time to visit one house. It’s usually best to choose their primary home, or wherever they’ll be waking up on Christmas morning. If it isn’t your place then either drop the presents off in advance or contribute costs to the other parent. Schedule in your own plans It’s your Christmas too. If you will not get the chance to see your children on Christmas Day, schedule in arrangements with your own family and friends.
So grab your egg nog, toast your ex, and wish them well. Don’t sweat the small stuff and no matter where your kids will be spending Christmas Day – make sure they know you’re happy and your celebrations with them will be next holiday. Then they can have the Christmas they deserve.