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.

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