30 November 2018

3 tips for separated parents to make the most out of the Christmas holidays

  1. Communicate and plan ahead

After separation many parents will put in place a routine for their children.  This routine may not initially include arrangements for school holidays and special occasions such as Christmas Day.

Christmas is often a challenging time for separated families.  The key to reducing stress and the impact of separation on your children is early and respectful communication.  Aim to discuss and agree on arrangements for the time the children will spend with each of you and other family members over the holidays and Christmas Day.

If you are considering taking time off work and travelling or camping with your children, these plans should be discussed with the other parent beforehand.  You should also make sure the other parent is aware of any festivities that your children may be involved in, for example school concerts and plays.

Planning ahead will enable your children to have the best day possible and will reduce the risk that your children will feel ‘caught in the middle’ this festive season.

If the other parent is being difficult and you feel that this may be sensed by your children and make them unhappy, you may consider inviting the other parent to a mediation so that you can discuss and focus on putting in place arrangements for the holidays to reduce the impact on your children.

  1. Gift giving

Consider coordinating your gift giving with the other parent.  It is not uncommon that during the relationship one parent will take responsibility for Christmas shopping.  Now that you have separated it is likely that you are both out hunting for the perfect present for your children.  Consider discussing with the other parent what you are thinking of buying before hitting the stores, to avoid duplication.

If your child brings along with them a gift that they have received from the other parent, be positive and encouraging.  Remember Christmas is about the children. It is also a good idea to ensure that your child returns with the gift the next time they see the other parent.

Remember what the Christmas spirit is all about.  Whilst you may envisage gifting your former spouse a lump of coal this year, consider how assisting your children to pick out a small present for the other parent, may help and support them to adjust and feel more comfortable with the changing family dynamic.

  1. Celebrate Christmas Day

After separation, Christmas Day will not feel the same for anyone in your family.  That doesn’t mean that you cannot enjoy Christmas (you may just need to adjust your expectations and make some changes).

For many separated parents, Christmas Day can feel very lonely.  Especially if you find yourself waking up alone Christmas morning or you are not putting the kids to bed Christmas night.  This can be particularly hard where you are used to certain family traditions.

Surrounding yourself with loved ones and family can reduce some of the feelings of emptiness.  Consider making arrangements to stay with loved ones and continue to celebrate and enjoy your traditions.  You may also consider creating new traditions!

If you would like to discuss your parenting arrangements with one of our Cairns family lawyers, contact us today on 4036 9700.

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