It is important that both parents involved in the organisation of the holiday period, feel that they are being heard, and that any arrangements made are agreed upon and confirmed by both parties. This may mean that both parents need to compromise from their ideal situation. However, it is crucial to focus on what is best for the children involved. The shared aim should be to make the most of the holiday period.
Christmas in separated families can be difficult, which is why we have included the following points to consider for families facing a separation or divorce, in the lead up to Christmas.
- Define Your Timeframes and Strictly Adhere to Them
If you are wondering how to split Christmas between separated parents, it is important to communicate with your ex-partner in regards to which days in the holiday season you would like as your timeframe for celebration. This may be broken down in different ways. For example, one partner may have the children on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, and the other may have the children on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Alternatively, one partner may have the children in the morning of Christmas Day, and the other may have the children for Christmas Dinner. You may even consider having a small portion of Christmas Day all together.
It is much more straightforward for everyone involved if the holiday period, in the transitioning between households, can move like clockwork.
In order to achieve this, make sure that you map out a schedule for Christmas at least two months prior to the day. This way, if any changes need to be made, you have plenty of time to readjust.
Do not confirm a plan with your children, unless you are certain that this will be the Christmas schedule. Children need consistency and reassurance in these circumstances. If the children feel certain of the plan, they have time to adjust themselves to the new situation, prior to the actual day.
- Communicate in Regards to Gift Giving
It is imperative to keep each other abreast of the organisation of gifts. This avoids the potential of doubling up on the same presents, or of one parent spending a larger amount of money on gifts than the other. Ultimately, most young children respond very positively to gifts. If a parent feels like their ex-partner is ‘out-doing’ them in terms of presents, this can create tension.
Also, discuss the budget for Christmas gifts at least two months before Christmas, to allow for time to arrange the presents. To keep things clear cut and straightforward, perhaps communicate via email a list of the gifts you plan to give, or have bought, so you are thoroughly keeping each other in the loop.
- Do Not Create Comparisons to Previous Years
When discussing Christmas with your children, try to focus on the excitement of this year, rather than drawing comparisons in terms of how Christmas will be different. Instead of focusing on what will not be happening this year, focus on what will. Communicate with your extended family to also following this attitude. Keep all the positives in the front of the mind of your children.
For example, the exciting fact that your children will be seeing their cousins, or that they will be having some delicious food, and receiving presents. However, be sure to honour and talk through any feelings of anxiety or sadness that your children may be feeling, due to their recognitions of how things are different.
- Make the Most of Your Time with Your Children
It is important to keep in mind that no Christmas Day is perfect. Try to focus on the present moment, and not to worry if your children are having a better or worse time than they would if they were with your partner. Don’t worry yourself over small details, just do your best. Let yourself rely on your other family members to help with organisational details, and maybe even pass on the heavy lifting of organising any events this year, if this is usually your role.
Seek Advice from Leach Legal
Navigating the Christmas period during the separation or divorce process undoubtedly comes with its trials. For advice in regards to any family legal manners, please do not hesitate to call Leach Legal on 08 9486 9733, or book a free 15-minute consultation here.