Christmas is often seen as a time to be spent with family. But if you’re going through a divorce or separation, it can be a difficult time to navigate both practically and emotionally. If you’ve got children, much of your focus will be on making Christmas as magical as it can be. 

Whilst every family’s circumstances are different, there are things that you and your ex-partner can do to help keep things free from stress and tension and put the children first. Here are our top tips.

Be organised 

When it comes to Christmas, planning in advance always minimises stress, no matter the situation. And when you’re separated with children, having a clear picture of what the festive period will look like will pay dividends.  

If you find communicating with your ex-partner difficult, it might take a while to reach a compromise you’re both happy with. That’s why planning things as early as possible will help you manage expectations in a calm and productive way that works for everyone. 

Put the children first

Divorce and separation can be very stressful for kids. The last thing they need is to feel as though they have to choose between their parents at a time of year that should be about happiness and fun. 

Really think about what’s going to work. Does it involve spending a part of Christmas day together to open presents? If the children will be exclusively with one parent over the holidays, are you going to ensure a Zoom or FaceTime call? Are there plans for a separate Christmas celebration with each parent?  Whatever it looks like, make your decisions with the best interests of the children at the forefront of your mind.

Manage everyone’s expectations

If you’re used to a big Christmas with extended family, it might look a little different this year. Usually some compromises will have to be made on both sides.

Try not to make false promises. It’ll only end up in more disappointment if you’re not able to follow through with them. Helping them prepare for a different kind of Christmas will manage their expectations. And even get them excited for what’s to come this year. 

A lot of parents worry that Christmas won’t be the same after a separation. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. You can introduce new traditions that are equally as magical for both you and the children. 

Make an agreement about presents

Don’t put yourself under additional stress to buy more material things to make up for the situation. It’s an easy trap to fall into when it comes to children, when what they really need is your time.

If possible, have a discussion with your ex about what presents the children will get. If you’re buying joint presents, bounce ideas around about what they’d like. If you’re buying separately, try to set a budget. Sometimes, financial situations aren’t equal and it’s not good for one parent to be left feeling as though they’re not providing enough. 

Harrogate Family Law is here to help

Our top priority has always been excellent client care. We want our clients to be happy and excited for the future, even if there’s a lot of change on the horizon.

Whether you’re at the start of your journey, or you’re looking for more support along the way, we’re here to help. Call us today to talk more about working with us.