Keep calm, its divorce at Christmas


If you’re anything like me, whilst you love Christmas, it kinda sneaks up on you. Ridiculous really given that it happens at the same time each year. You’d think I’d have a grip of it after 46 years on the planet. In Keep calm, its divorce at Christmas, we take a look at how you can have fun at Christmas and still manage your divorce. 


And I’m lucky when it comes to Christmas logistics – there’s just me. I don’t have a brood of children to provide for financially and emotionally. I don’t have to do #allthethings or buy them either. I’m also lucky I don’t have to be a dab hand at costume making and cookie baking (it’s truly a relief for humanity on both counts)!


And I don’t have to grapple with an ex who’s trying to push every button going. I get to decide what I want and need from this season. 


But my blogs aren’t about me, they’re about you. And you might have to be all the things to all the people. Right in the middle of all the divorce craziness. 


Keep calm, its divorce at Christmas. 


At first, do nothing


Full of Christmas stress rather than cheer? Do nothing. If you’ve followed me for a while, you’ll know that this is my first rule of divorce (unless you’re at risk of course). Doing nothing gives us time to respond calmly and wisely, after consideration. Reacting often doesn’t end well for anyone. 


If you’re feeling stressed out and overwhelmed, just stop. If you’re a good girl and you need permission – here it is. Just stop. 


Believe it, by giving yourself the gift of some time, when you get going again you’ll be more productive and get more done. Skeptical? I know. I was until I tried it – I can promise you it works. When we force ourselves to be or do something we’re just not ready for, it doesn’t work. It’s harder, takes longer and we feel resentful. That’s not the spirit you want to bring to this Christmas. 


Let it go, let it go


You know that’s what Elsa would say and Emma says it too. 


It’s impossible to be all the things to all the people all the time. So let that one go right now and accept you for you. You might be lucky enough to have a supportive soon-to-be-ex, or great parents and or friends around you. Or it could just be you and if it is, you are enough. 


Letting go of trying to do everything and please everyone means you need to prioritise. Think about what’s available to you this year in terms of time, money, energy, and check in with your values. What’s important? If you could only do three things, what would they be? What do you do simply because it’s become habit? 


As the CEO of your divorce and your own life, you get to make all the decisions! You decide. Once you’ve worked out a list of what you can and want to accomplish, you can set the rest free. Let it go. 

Keep calm, its divorce at Christmas.

Whose expectations?


When Christmas isn’t the same as in years past, it’s hard not to feel sad, regretful and to look back and wish things were still the same.


Sometimes you feel driven to try and make it as close to what you had before as possible. You tell yourself it needs to be the same for the children. Or your wider family will have expectations about what you should do.


But ask yourself, how many of the expectations are yours? The feeling you ‘should’ do Christmas just as you always have – going to the Carol Service, having everyone around for a big dinner, producing a pile of presents, spending Boxing Day with Auntie Marge? 


Start from scratch. You get to decide what’s good for you and your family this year. Traditions can be fun, but only if you’re still committed to them. Otherwise, they’re just another thing on your to-do list. Talk to your nearest and dearest, and respect their feelings, but set a boundary around what you’re willing to give right now – of your time and wallet. Pizza for Christmas dinner is just fine if that’s what suits you this year. 

Remember, Keep calm, its divorce at Christmas.

Focus on family adventures


Apart from perhaps a truly special Christmas gift in childhood, we don’t remember all the gifts we received. One of my favourites was a much loved Petite Typewriter! What was yours? 


Mostly, when we think of Christmas memories it’s the experiences and feelings we remember (both good and not so good). So what if your soon-to-be-ex buys all the things – it might impress the children now, and for a few years even. But will they, as adults and possibly parents themselves, look back and think worse of you for it? Unlikely. It’s likely they’ll care about the same things you do – the special memories you create at Christmas. 


Creativity costs very little money. Get all the children involved in creating an adventure-filled Christmas that takes them off the tech, out of the house and doing stuff together. Trips to the seaside, into the local woods, sorting out unwanted toys to box and wrap for others less fortunate. Baking, making paper chains together, whatever you love doing. It’s the gift of your presence that matters – you might not be with them all the time, but when you are, put aside the stress and just have fun together. 

Remember that you are not alone. There are very many people in your position and there is support for you. Nina Farr runs the Cluster Mothers which is active over the Christmas period. You can check it out here The Cluster Mothers

If you don’t have the children over Christmas Day itself, remember that as the CEO of your own life, you get to decide when it is and what you’ll do. Christmas is a season, not a date. You can create special memories when you choose. And you can spend the time away from your children doing something important for you – you are a person in your own right, and she needs a holiday too. Your solo Christmas Day can be whatever you want and need it to be. 

Ditch the divorce for December

Some of my clients have mediation and court hearings in December! As if you didn’t have enough to do, right? If this is also you, I feel for you. It’s wise to schedule in some ‘divorce time’ so you’re prepared practically and emotionally. 


If you don’t have to ‘do’ your divorce in December, how about letting it go just for a few weeks? No one will die. The world won’t end and actually, you’ll come back to it refreshed in January. 


If this idea fills you with horror, it’s a sign that you really do need to take a break for December. Your divorce should not be taking over every waking moment of your life. If it is, you’re probably not sleeping much either. Am I right? If you are seeing more than one 3 o’clock in a 24 hour period it’s time to step back. 


It is possible to ‘overdo’ your divorce. It can be all-consuming, and that’s no good for your mental health, your physical health or your relationships with friends and family. So, attend to what is really necessary, and ditch the rest. That includes guilt, stress, the anxiety, and fears. It includes the anger the perfectionism and resentments. The whole lot. 

The divorce Christmas box

Imagine finding a Christmas gift box and putting all of the divorce emotions into that box and wrapping it up. Instead of putting it under the tree, stick it at the back of your wardrobe. You can pull it out in January. As for your paperwork, I’d love for you to put all that away too if you can. Make a note of where you’re at and your next steps for January, then enjoy being a parent, daughter, sister, friend, woman for a few weeks. You deserve it! 


If you want to relax in the certainty you’ll hit the ground running in 2020, you can get me in your diary for the new year. Just book in a call, then give yourself some lovely festive breathing space knowing you’ve got your divorce covered when you’re rested. If you’d love to spend a Clarity Day with me In January 2020 for the 2019 price, book it in December and also receive a free place at Get Divorce Ready Live in London in January! 


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 family mediator and founder of Get Divorce Ready the online self-study and group programmes. Emma has been featured on BBC Radio, The Telegraph, the iPaper and in Marie Claire Magazine. To find out more visit

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