A guide to spending Christmas without your children

Writing a guide to spending Christmas without your children was important and yet not easy. One of the most painful aspects of separation and divorce can be Christmas without your children. If both parents are involved with parenting, it’s likely that every separated parent will experience this at some point. Whether it’s for a few hours or a few days, it still hurts. Here are some tips for getting through the festive season when you’re separated.

It’s OK not to be OK

Separation from your children, especially at such an emotional time, strikes at the very heart of being a parent. It hurts and there’s no getting away from that. Accept that you will feel sad, perhaps angry, and allow your feelings. If you have trusted friends or family you can share your sadness with, do. It’s a good idea to be positive in front of the children, but there’s no need for you to be strong all the time.

Send them off with love

Don’t let your children feel responsible for any sadness you’re feeling. Support them in their excitement and happiness as they look forward to Christmas Day. Let them know you love them, you’re happy for them and you’re excited on their behalf. If they’re nervous about being away from you, reassure them that you’re there for them no matter what, and help them look forward to the fun times they’ll be having while they’re away

Look after yourself

We can often feel obligated to please other family members at this year, and race around making sure everyone else is happy. This time, give yourself a free pass on the social obligations. Do what is right for you, whether that’s spending Christmas with family, friends or on your own. Think about what will help you feel most relaxed and supported. Perhaps you have family who will look after you and you can just switch off for a few days. Perhaps you have friends who are in a similar position and you can join together to do Christmas on your own terms this year. Or perhaps you just want time alone, whether at home or taking yourself away somewhere completely different.

Agree Christmas Day contact

As we discussed on the previous blog, it’s easier on everyone if you agree Christmas plans well in advance. But whenever you do it, make sure everyone knows what’s going to happen on Christmas Day when your children are away. Ensure you and your ex are clear on when you’ll be in touch and how: will you call or Skype at a particular time? Will you drop by for an hour with presents?

When contact causes conflict

If contact on the day causes conflict, think about agreeing to no contact. This may feel painful for you, but can be easier on the children, rather than putting them in the middle of a heated conversation or power struggle. Make sure they know in advance this will happen, and that you will have extra Christmas hugs and fun for them when they’re next with you. Whatever your Christmas plans, please be gentle on yourself. Build in time to rest, to be with your feelings and to do things that make you feel good – perhaps activities that wouldn’t be possible with your children around. And if 2019 is the year you want to nail your divorce and come out the other side feeling positive and in control, message me to book in a chat for the new year. 30 minute consultations with me are free and together we can work out just how best I can support you from as little as £36 per month.

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The Divorce Alchemist

Emma Heptonstall, the Divorce Alchemist is author of the Amazon best selling book How to be a Lady Who Leaves, the Ultimate Guide to Getting Divorce Ready. A former lawyer, Emma is a practising family mediator and founder of Get Divorce Ready the online self study and group programmes. Emma is featured on BBC Radio, The Telegraph, the iPaper and in Marie Claire Magazine. To find out more visit www.emmaheptonstall.com