How to Deal with Divorce During Christmas

Coping with Divorce at Christmas

The holiday season after a divorce can be a challenging time, with or without children involved. Perhaps it’s your first holiday spent by yourself or away from your ex-spouse’s family that you had adopted as your own. No matter the circumstances surrounding your unique experience, Christmas after divorce can be daunting.

If it is your first Christmas after divorce and you are struggling with your ex-partner about the arrangements for your children or if there are domestic violence issues, you are not alone. The family law professionals at Parfitt Cresswell are here to guide you through the season with expert advice and tips to help curate a solution for you and if possible, for both parties involved in your separation.

Reach Out for Support

It is normal to feel lonely and isolated after a divorce or separation, especially during the festive holidays you once spent as a couple. It can be helpful to reach out to friends and family for support when you are feeling down about your situation. Try to spend time surrounded by people who care about you to minimise the feelings of loneliness.

Remember to Take Care of Yourself

A divorce can take a significant toll on your mental and physical health, and this can be amplified during the holidays. Slow down and remember to take time to respect your physical and emotional well-being during this time. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, eating well, and engaging in activities that you find to be soothing and enjoyable.

Focus on the Present

This is true for individuals with or without children. While it’s natural to look back on past Christmases with fond memories, try to focus on the present and create new memories that you can cherish.

Seek Professional Help

If you are struggling to cope with the emotional aftermath of your divorce, it may be in your best interest to seek the support of a therapist or counsellor. They can provide a safe and supportive space to process your feelings and work through difficulties you are facing, enabling you to develop healthy coping habits that contribute to your healing.

How to Share Christmas After Divorce

The first Christmas after a divorce will be the most difficult, as it’s an adjustment that requires significant effort on behalf of both parents to provide children with a sense of normalcy. There are several steps you can take to make the holiday season easier for everyone involved.

Communicate with Your Ex-Partner in Advance

It is important to communicate with your ex-partner in advance about how you will celebrate Christmas with your children. This might include discussing who will have the children on Christmas Day and how you will divide up celebrations and traditions, if spending the holiday together with your children is not a practical option.

Bear in mind this is a trying time for both parents and try to be as collaborative as possible. It is best to try to negotiate a schedule early on, so both parents have time to compromise on any issues. Perhaps you can alternate Christmas Day plans or settle on one parent having the children Christmas Eve and one on Christmas Day.

Adopt “Second Christmas”

If you and your ex-partner have decided it’s best to have alternate Christmas days with your children, you may adopt the concept of a “second Christmas.” Second Christmas enables your children to spend a magical Christmas day with each of their parents in their respective households. This method ensures no one feels left out and each parent gets to spend their special time with their children.

Consider Grandparents in Your Christmas Plans

Christmas will also be different for your children’s grandparents. Grandparents on the side of the non-resident parent may not be able to see the children as they did in previous years, which may be unsettling to them and the children.

It is recommended to find a suitable day near Christmas to organise a special get together for the children to see their grandparents to spend quality time and exchange gifts. While this may come as a sacrifice to you, it will be a core memory that your children will appreciate as they grow up.

Create New Traditions

Christmas will be different, but that does not mean it has to be upsetting to you or your children. Do not compare the Christmas you are providing for your children to the Christmases of the past or to the Christmas your ex-partner is hosting. Instead, focus on creating new traditions while spending priceless time with your family.

Remember that you are not letting your children down, and that you are trying your best. That is what your children will retain most from their childhood Christmases with you.

Do Not Engage in Christmas Present Competitions

It is an unfortunate theme in families of divorce that the parents will attempt to outdo each other by spoiling their children with extravagant Christmas presents. Do not engage in this behaviour, as it is unhealthy for you and your children.

If you cannot afford a gift on your child’s list, do not feel guilty. Instead, be transparent with your children and explain that the gift was not doable this year. This may be disheartening, but it’s important to explain to your children that the real gift is the time spent together.

Divide the Christmas List with Your Ex-Partner

This tip may not work for all families, especially if you and your ex-partner are not on speaking terms. However, when possible, it is a good idea to divide your children’s Christmas list. By doing this you avoid Christmas present competitions or making the mistake of buying the same gift. It also demonstrates healthy co-parenting that will make your holidays flow much smoother.

Find Ways to Stay Connected

If you cannot physically be with your children on Christmas, there are still ways to stay connected. This may include video calls, sending handwritten letters or holiday cards, or sending gifts. It may not be how you want things to be, but it’s important for the sake of your children’s happiness during the holidays.

Participate in Holiday Activities

It’s important to participate in holiday activities, even if you are not seeing your children for Christmas. You deserve to feel joy, and you should not punish yourself for situations out of your control. Try to partake in Christmas fun, such as decorating your home or baking holiday treats to share with loved ones.

Do Not Criticise Your Ex-Partner

Above all, it’s important to focus on the well-being of your children. No matter how Christmas may look this year, the main priority is to cultivate a supportive and nurturing environment for the children.

If your ex-partner is not willing to see them or is unreliable and you fear they will not show up, it’s essential to remain calm. Do not speak negatively of your children’s mother or father in front of them, even if you are feeling frustrated or stressed.

Listen to Your Children

Although you are suffering with the aftermath of your divorce, your children are also affected in ways that you may not realise. Communicate with your children; ask them how they are feeling and allow them to feel seen and heard during this transitional time in their lives.

By understanding their side of the situation, you and your ex-partner may be able to make more sound decisions regarding how to move forward through the holidays. Remember that there will be compromises to be made, and not everything will be in your favour.

Try to Remain Positive

While it is never fun to give up your Christmas traditions with your children after a divorce, it’s critical to focus on the positive aspects of the situation. This may include the fact that you will be able to spend time with your children at a later date, if you could not see them for Christmas, or the fact that you are now able to start new beginnings.

Remember that is it normal to feel a range of emotions after a divorce, and it is okay to take the time you need to heal and adjust to your new circumstances. With time and support, you will find your way forward and be able to create a new normal for yourself and your children that brings you joy and fulfilment.

Contact a Family Law Solicitor

If you and your ex-partner are unable to come to an agreement about how to divide Christmas with your children, Parfitt Cresswell’s family law solicitors can help you explore your options, such as seeking a court order if you want to secure the arrangements for seeing your child or children or for arranging overnight stays. To discuss the specifics of your children’s arrangements, contact our team today.

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