Christmas advice from the Children Team
12 December 2017 by Lisa O'Boyle
Christmas is seen as the time of the year when the whole family gets together. Parents want to treat their children with festive spirit, family traditions, exciting presents and Father Christmas.
When parents have separated and the family has changed it can be a stressful and an emotional time. In addition, arrangements for the care of your children can become an organisational nightmare that spoils the festive spirit. To make your life easier, start organising the care of your children with the other parent as early as possible. Here are our tips to ensure that the shared care of the children over the Christmas period goes as smoothly as possible.
Communicate – Communicate effectively with the other parent to agree on care arrangements for your children. To communicate effectively you should let the other parent know of your plans before you make any commitments, suggest your plans in terms of shared care for the children, explain your thinking, listen to the other parent’s view, consider their view and try to compromise.
Have fun and let the children have fun – It is not always easy to enjoy Christmas when you are not spending it with your children that year. Make the most of the situation and try to organise Christmas with friends or family so that you do not feel lonely. Similarly, let your children have fun, even if it means that they are having fun with the other parent. Try to be enthusiastic and non-judgemental when your children tell you all about their Christmas with the other parent.
Respect each other – Whilst you wish to spend as much time with your children as possible, try to understand that it is also important for the children and the other parent to spend time together on this special occasion. When you interact to make plans, drop the children off or when the children mention the other parent show respect for the other parent. Denigrating each other in front of the children will be harmful for the children as they naturally love both of you. Instead, demonstrate that you respect the other parent, even if you don’t always agree with each other.
Importance of coordinating Christmas presents – You do not want to disappoint your children by duplicating presents. Try to communicate with the other parent to ensure that this does not happen. Similarly, don’t get into a competition with the other parent by trying to buy a “better” present or by criticising the present that the other parent bought for the children.
See things from your child’s perspective – When making arrangements try to think from your child’s perspective. Let your child know what the plans are so that they know what to expect and take into consideration their views on those plans. Avoid putting your children under pressure to choose between you and avoid letting your children feel that they have let you down by enjoying Christmas with the other parent.
Think about details… – To ensure it all goes smoothly when you are making plans, try to think about who will do the handovers? At what time will these take place? How will you communicate with each other if something happens or to warn each other if you will be late dropping the children off?
Make plans – be organised and try to make plans in writing so that you are both on the same page and so that you can remember what your plan was this year when you organise Christmas next year.
Avoid conflict – It will upset your children to see their parents arguing and/or to see that one parent is upset after an argument. Children often blame themselves for being the cause of their parents arguing. If you know that you often end up in conflict, try to communicate by email or through grandparents.
Share – Share the time that each parent spends with the children. There are several different ways in which you can agree to share Christmas. For example some parents alternate arrangements each year, others arrange a Christmas celebration on another day than Christmas day, others arrange to drop in on Christmas day to watch the children open their presents and others spend Christmas eve and Christmas morning with one parent and Christmas lunch and evening with the other.
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