Christmas Survival Guide for Separated Parents


Is simply surviving Christmas enough? The decorations are being hung and, hopefully, the last of your Christmas shopping has been completed. For separated families, or families with step-mothers or fathers, the big day can seem more trouble than its worth.

Is just surviving christmas enough?
For separated parents, this may be your first Christmas apart. This can be particularly daunting, especially if you're stressing yourself to provide the same level of Christmas joy to your children when you're one team player down.

Top Tips For A Merry Christmas

Keep realistic expectations – Just because your Christmas is no longer the same it doesn't mean it should devalue their enjoyment. There might not be a fight over who carves the turkey this year but Christmas for children is about the quality of time they spend with their loved ones. If you and your ex-partner have argued throughout the year, spending Christmas together may not be the best idea, even if you want to try and keep things consistent for the children.

Be understanding of your ex-partner's situation – If you're the resident parent, this means the children will be living with you a majority of the time. Depending on how you split your time with the other parent, they may only see them on the weekends. If they've asked to have the children on Christmas Day, be the bigger person, accept the olive branch they're extending and maybe give them the benefit of the doubt. They may just really be missing their children at this time of year, and for you, there is always next year.

Plan activities as a group to help avoid arguments – If you are trying to spend Christmas together, stay busy. It's much harder to argue if you're all out in the garden making snowmen (if it's a white Christmas) or you're engrossed in a party game. It may not be like the old Christmases you remember, but leaving the ill feelings behind for one day can lighten the mood.

Lay off the egg nog (or any alcoholic substances…) – Everyone likes a drink around Christmas time but increased alcohol consumption and rising tensions around the dinner table can lead to a toxic environment. Alcohol, in some circumstances can also lead to violence.

Step-families can have fun too! - Whether you call them blended families or extended families, spending Christmas time together for the first time can feel like you're walking on egg shells. You may feel the pressure to live up to what the children in particular are used to but this could be a big mistake. Instead of re-creating old memories, create new ones. This can work just as well for families who are celebrating their first Christmas as single parent families.

Enjoy Your Family the Way They Are

Surviving your first Christmas separated is possible, but enjoying it is the real goal. It's all too easy to look around at the adverts on TV showing the 'perfect' family Christmas. Remember, adverts are staged and living in the real world doesn't always allow for a nuclear family gathering.

Just as you want to see your children happy, they want to see you happy. Try and plan ahead as best you can to alleviate any stress and enjoy the day for what it is.

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