When parents are separated, the festive period can often be difficult as tensions are high and everyone wants to enjoy time with the children. It’s normal to feel sad, lonely or even jealous that the children are not with you.
It can be a lonely time of year for the parent who is not seeing the children on Christmas Day and it can be just as difficult for the parent that the children will be with. Here are some tips to help make the festive period more enjoyable for all.
1. Work Together
Work with your ex-spouse to make sure that Christmas goes as smoothly as possible for all involved.
When collecting or dropping off the children, be as civil as possible. It is also a good idea to communicate with each other to find out what presents you are both intending on buying the children to avoid the children becoming upset or disappointed if they receive the same thing from each of you.
It is often a nice touch to buy a present for the children to give to the other parent. Not only is it nice for the parent to receive a present from the children but also the children will enjoy having a present to give on Christmas Day and will not be disappointed that they have nothing to give.
2. Keep Things as Normal as Possible
Try to keep things as normal as possible for the children. They are going to find it hard that both of their parents aren’t together at Christmas and so to do something or go somewhere completely different may be too much.
It’s a good idea to start making new traditions or family rituals that you can enjoy with the children for years to come without any difficult memories being attached.
3. Be Open
The children are bound to have questions about the new arrangements. You should encourage them to ask you anything that’s on their mind.
Try to answer the children as honestly as possible - it may be difficult for you to be open about the situation but always remember that it is in the children’s interests for everyone to be open.
4. Be Positive
If you are on your own on Christmas Day, try not to sit at home alone thinking about what the children may be doing. Instead, arrange to spend the day with friends or family.
When the children are next with you, you can have a “second Christmas Day” with them where they can open presents with you and even enjoy a second Christmas lunch!
5. Don’t Feel Guilty
Don’t feel guilty over the children not being able to spend time with both parents. It will be better for the children spending time with each of you separately than experiencing conflict and upset on Christmas Day.
If your children are sad, remind them how much they are loved by both of you and explain to them that now they are able to enjoy two Christmases.
Joanne Green is a family law solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Milton Keynes.
With offices throughout England and Wales, Slater and Gordon have the largest team of family lawyers. If you need advice about arrangements for children over the festive period, contact one of our specialist family lawyers on freephone 0800 916 9055 or contact us online.
For more information, read our previous blog Christmas Arrangements for Children with Separated Parents.