How To Celebrate Christmas When You Are Separated

When we think of Christmas, most of us think of the fun times and the magic. But, unfortunately, that is not the case for some people.

When we think of Christmas, most of us think of the fun times and the magic. But, unfortunately, that is not the case for some people. Christmas can also be a very difficult time for some and it can be especially hard for parents who are separated.
If you are facing Christmas as a separated parent, here are a few tips to help you navigate the festive season. 
1. Seeing the little ones
It's usually best to start the conversation with your children’s other parent as early as possible, to give yourself plenty of time to come to an arrangement about times and days to see the children. If, for example, the resident parent has the children on Christmas Day, you may want to arrange a time on the day when you can give the children their presents.
You could suggest an arrangement of alternating the years so that you get to spend Christmas Day with the children every other year. In the other years, you could even arrange a 'fake Christmas', when you get to do all the traditional festive thingsyou like to do with your family, just on a different day. That way, everybody gets to have a full festive experience, and the children get to celebrate twice.

2. Making long-term plans
Reaching a long-term deal and being flexible will work to everyone’s benefit. Remember Christmas is not all about you.
Your children deserve their celebrations even if you feel cheated out of yours. Encourage them to have an amazing day with their other parent, even if you can't stand the thought of being without them.

3. Seeing grandparents
This situation can also affect grandparents. The parents of the non-resident parent will be unlikely to see their grandchildren at Christmas which can be upsetting. Like the non-resident parent, grandparents could try to organise a special day, or a time around Christmas, when they could give their grandchildren presents.

4. How to make time together special
The time that you do spend with your little ones over Christmas should be special. Many separated parents try to outdo each other, which is likely to lead to stress and disappointment, as you often can’t live up to the expectations and may end up feeling second best. Similarly, non-resident parents sometimes feel that they must compete with their children’s other parent when it comes to buying presents. When one parent is spending a large amount on expensive gifts or taking the children on a costly holiday, the other parent may feel that he or she can’t offer the same amount. This can lead to heartache, as parents may feel like they have let their children down if they cannot afford to compete.

5. Parents spending Christmas alone
If you will not get the chance to see your children on Christmas Day and will be alone, see if you can make arrangements with your friends. If anyone close to you is in the same situation, why not organise to see them, volunteer or invite them round for lunch so that you will not be by yourself. Sometimes the parent living with the children can be caused stress by a non-resident parent who doesn’t want to see his or her children over the festive period or is unreliable.
It can be heart-breaking to explain that their other parent won’t be visiting over Christmas, but it will be kinder if you remain positive, and try not to criticise him or her too much in front of the children, no matter how angry you feel.

6. Celebrate with your children's other parent
Consider celebrating part Christmas together with your children's other parent, especially if your separation is fairly recent. Some people are shocked when divorced families celebrate holidays or birthdays together. Go ahead and shock them! Your little ones will be thrilled.

7. Establish traditions with your children
Establish traditions with your children, even new ones that may be off-time or different from past rituals. Your kids may not remember the details the first few years you establish them, but year-in, year-out traditions will stay with them for a lifetime. Something they can pass down to their family too.

Laura Doyle, Mum of 4. Kyle 9, Noa Belle 4, Briar 2 and Milla 12 months. Breastfeeder, co-sleeper, coffee drinker. Staying positive and inspired by the chaos of it all. Writer and blogger at

Laura Doyle

Mum of four, Gentle parent living on coffee and trying always to stay positive and motivate in the midst of the madness.

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