Christmas is the time of year most-often associated with joyous celebrations and copious family time, and it’s a day that many families look forward to. Christmas in divorced families, however, isn’t always so simple. Christmas arrangements for divorced couples who have children can often deter away from the jolly fun, becoming somewhat of a stress instead.
The first Christmas after separation is often the worst, as families have not yet had to deal with the change in their arrangements. However, the truth is, Christmas really is just a day. There is so much pressure on families to have a wonderful and perfect Christmas, and this can add a lot of added stress to separated families. The anxiety and emotions experienced as a result are not worth it – it’s just a day!
Coping With the First Christmas After Separation
To make Christmas as easy and enjoyable as possible, we strongly advise that you let go of the pressure and expectation.
There’s no doubt that your first big celebration as separated parents can be harrowing. It might seem impossible right now, but with a modest amount of seasonal good will, you can make it work for yourselves and for the kids. The key is to focusing on what is going to work best for you and your kids, no matter what the arrangement ends up being. Based on this, perhaps consider the following arrangement options:
You Have Christmas Day and They Have Boxing Day
Or vice versa. This arrangement requires you to let go of the importance of Christmas Day itself and instead think of Christmas day and Boxing day as Christmas time that is enjoyable to spend with the kids no matter what the day. You can then swap the days the following year.
Splitting Time With the Kids on Christmas Day
If you live nearby to your ex-partner, splitting Christmas Day can be a fantastic option for organising Christmas in divorced families. Someone can wake up with the kids on Christmas day and the other can spend the second half of the day with the kids. As opening stockings when the kids wake up is often a highlight as a parent, you can then switch the time of day that you see the kids the next year.
Alternating Christmas Time
Christmas in divorced families is made even more complicated when parents don’t live close to each other. If your ex-partner lives at the opposite end of the country – or even in a different country – you can pretty much rule out sharing Christmas day, unless someone is going to stay somewhere close for the Christmas period.
For these situations, you may want to consider alternating Christmas time. Perhaps you will have the kids for Christmas eve, day, and Boxing day this year, and your ex-partner will have them the next year. This is always a more difficult option, but it can be still be an option for parents living far away.
However, it is important to keep your children as a priority and if they will be distressed not seeing one of their parents for the Christmas days, it would definitely be worth considering alternatives and seeing if you can make it work in some way.
With Christmas arrangements for divorced parents, there’s no right or wrong answer. It’s important to focus on the happiness of your family and work out what is going to work out best for the kids. It’s tricky to cater for everyone, but it’s important to make sure that your decision is fair.
Alternating the big days, accommodating each other’s family parties, and communicating about presents can take Christmas day from a nightmare to a success. Communication is key to making Christmas more enjoyable than stressful, and you and your ex-partner will hopefully soon decide on arrangements that work for everyone as best as possible. It’s also important to know that it will most certainly get easier. As a family, you’ll find new ways of doing things that might come to feel quite liberating!