14 December 2017 –
School holidays can be a challenging time if you are divorced or separated and managing a co-parenting arrangement. Christmas is especially hard, because there are usually planned meals, events and traditions that involve extended family and friends to work around.
Every situation is different, but there is one key thing we encourage you to consider when managing this time of year.
It should be obvious, but sometimes in the chaos of the holidays and the added pressure of Christmas, the arguments about who is having who and when can actually make Christmas a time that your children dread. Our children are influenced by the emotional states of those around them. So when parents get stressed, so do the children. This can lead to temper tantrums and meltdowns. (And that’s just the parents).
By now, you should have made your arrangements for the holiday schedule. If you already have a Parenting Order or Parenting Plan in place, then stick to the agreement. If there are still details to finalise, we suggest you do this as soon as possible ie. make sure both parents are aware of the specific pick-up and drop-off times and locations.
If you haven’t already done so, make sure that the arrangements are clearly communicated to the children. Sometimes you’ll be to-in and fro-ing with your ex-partner that you actually forget to clearly explain the arrangement with the children. Pop the dates that the children are spending in each household in a diary or calendar, or even use their electronic calendar on their ipod or device, so they are aware of when they are going to be where.
Do your best to make it relaxed and smooth as possible. It’s not always easy, but we encourage you to make sure your children know that it’s ok to have fun at the other parents home.
Focussing on outdoing each other with expensive gifts creates a vibe that sucks the joy out of Christmas for the children. Remember the simple things can often be the best. In our experience working in this area for many years, your kids want you to be happy, and to spend time with them.
Missing out on time with your children on Christmas day can be difficult, but instead of pining after old traditions, why not think about developing some new traditions that happen before or after Christmas. This will give the children (and you) something to look forward to.
When you are on your own, take time to do something special for yourself. A refreshed and rejuvenated parent is always going to be better than an angry and bitter one. There might be times, you feel low during Christmas, please reach out to a friend or family member or contact Lifeline 13 11 14.
Wishing you and your family just the right mix of calm and merry this Christmas.