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Divorce at Christmas, find out how to spend Christmas after you seperate.

The festive season is almost upon us. And while Christmas can be a time of joy, family and togetherness for many, we can feel it all the more acutely when all is not well at home. Christmas can be exceptionally hard on recently divorced parents. Both parties can feel the stress and strain of facing their first Christmas as a single parent, regardless of who has custody. However, no matter how strained the relationship between you and your co-parent may be, with communication and preparation there’s no reason why both of you (and, most importantly, your children) can’t enjoy a merry Christmas this year.

Is it okay to have two Christmas days?

The issue of who “gets” your child or children on Christmas day can be extremely contentious for recently separated parents. The sad truth is that whatever the outcome, someone is likely to be disappointed. Some couples find that a suitable compromise is to have two Christmas days, one with each parent. Rarely will a child complain about the prospect of getting Christmas twice!

This can be a great way for your little one/s to spend quality time with the whole family. However, it’s important that parents avoid the temptation to “one-up” one another when it comes to providing a “better” Christmas day (more on that later).

The season is all about love and togetherness, so make sure that they get plenty of both. Everything else is window dressing.

Communicate and agree on a plan

While you might not relish the prospect of getting in touch with your ex while you’re still healing emotionally, you owe it to one another and your child to communicate with each other to be better co-parents.

The sooner you get in touch to arrange plans over Christmas, the less likely you are to clash. Ideally, you want to ensure that your child/ren gets to make quality memories with both parents. Decide who is going to take them to the shops to see Father Christmas and who is going to take them to the local cinema to see a festive film.

Parents can only benefit when they share their Christmas plans with each other and ensure that their little ones know that just because their parents aren’t together anymore doesn’t mean that they aren’t loved.

Presents of mind

Presents are often another point of contention between separated parents. While the temptation to fall into patterns of one-upmanship in terms of present giving is undeniable, this behaviour benefits neither parents nor their children in the long term.

It can lead to cycles of competitive generosity which can cause both parents financial hardship and risk raising a spoilt child. A far more appropriate strategy is to communicate with one another, ascertain what gifts your child wants and split them evenly between you.

Putting the child first

Finally, however you choose to celebrate Christmas this year, it’s essential that you put your child’s needs first. When you are united in pursuit of this goal, it becomes much easier to set aside any animosity you may hold for one another.

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