Christmas or any holidays post separation can be excruciating, especially when it is FRESH! Some have it lucky and may breeze through it however most may agree with me that it is a very volatile time in terms of emotions!
This time of year can be bittersweet for many in our predicament. The holidays seem to highlight what you DO have together with what you DON’T have, just as much! I have experienced and also heard of many scenarios similar to the ones below that depict many separated families need to figure out during this time of year:
1. Who will the children spend Christmas with? Where do they sleep for Santa to arrive?
2. How to ensure the children see both sides of the family without being torn? Is that even possible?
3. Who pays for the Santa presents? Do you share it? Do you get your own for each home?
4. How will we do the changeover during the festive period?
5. What happens to existing co-parenting weekends
Oh the list goes on!!
Putting aside all the logistical details, here are some tips to diffuse the volatility of emotions during the festive period from someone who has been there!
7 tips to overcome Christmas dramas post separation
1. Children FIRST
Put your children’s needs first before yours. Making their emotions a priority will help their feelings during this hard time, where they are at school with friends that are in a “normal” family scenario (whatever normal can be defined as these days).
Consider avoiding the emotional blackmail that maybe tempting to do with the children eg. I will miss you so much and be so sad when you go to mum/dads’s house (this makes them feel guilty and perhaps anxious about leaving you which prevents them from enjoying their time with the other parent).
2. Choose you battles!
Yes, biting your tongue and choosing your battles will be positive for everyone. I have learned this the hard way at times!
3. Be prepared to compromise!
YES, your family situation has changed and therefore this means that the current situation may not be ideal and may not make you totally HAPPY! However, compromising and considering things like alternating Christmas Eve festivities vs Christmas Day may need to be an option.
4. Plan ahead!
This will allow everyone time to accept compromises and also give you time to prepare the children. Preparing the children and yourself will help with your vibe as the day gets closer. Children feed off your VIBE, so focusing on the positives and preparing yourself will benefit your children!
5. Setup distractions
During the time without your kids, plan activities to distract you! I found this REALLY helpful. Having the children extracted during such a family-focused time is excruciating (at least it was for me), this time made me realise what I DIDN’T have! So, planning distractions to keep you busy will help! Perhaps a date? Read a good book! Back-to-back Netflix? Sleep in! For those who may be able to afford a holiday, use it for self-discovery! I am sure you get the idea.
6. The children have a right to be with BOTH parents during Christmas
Coming to an agreement of “how” that will work is based on your own situation. Understanding the basic principle that your children have a right to both of you, will be positive for them.
Jay Anderson a registered psychologist, counsellor and play therapist from My Child My Family suggests that: “It is beneficial for children to spend time with both parents, provided that each parent is caring of the child, meeting the child’s needs (not just physical needs but emotional needs also) AND respectful of the other parent.”
7. Consider buying your ex a gift
Yes, I understand how crazy this may seem if you are mostly experiencing fury with your Mr/Ms Ex, ESPECIALLY if separation is FRESH!
HOWEVER, if you refer to number 1 (Put your children first): when your children see that you and your ex are at least civil, they feel more security. Perhaps instilling maturity and kindness during such a tough time will help your children learn from the positive role modelling.
Remember being a good person isn’t easy when you are going through such a tough time!