Spending Christmas apart from your children can be a very emotional experience.
It might make you feel sad and lonely, angry and resentful, and alone and isolated.
And these are all perfectly normal reactions.
But Christmas doesn’t need to end because your relationship has – it just needs to change. Taking a positive approach to that change will significantly improve how merry Christmas is for everyone.
Read on for our tips on how to do this successfully:
It’s never too early to prepare
Starting conversations with your ex-partner early gives you both plenty of time to organise your other commitments, as well as come to terms with any changes. This helps remove any last minute stresses due to rearranging or cancelling plans, which is a much healthier environment for both you and your children.
Solutions might include alternating years so that one parent doesn’t always miss out, or having a second “fake” Christmas – something the children might particularly enjoy, given they’ll get to enjoy two days of presents and time with loved ones.
Whether your separation was amicable or not, it’s important to try to work with your partner if you can to make Christmas as enjoyable as possible for your children.
Children are like sponges – they absorb and learn from your behaviours and emotions, regardless of how much you’re trying to keep them hidden. With this in mind, remember that talking negatively about your ex-partner – no matter how uncooperative they’re being this Christmas – might make you feel better but might upset or disturb your children.
Involve the children
It doesn’t really matter how old your children are – talking to them and involving them in the arrangements will make them feel more engaged and welcoming to the changes over the festive period.
Reassure them that there will be time to spend with everyone and that they are loved regardless of where they are.
Make your own plans
Don’t feel guilty about taking advantage of the time you have without the children, either.
Whether it’s shopping in the sales, indulging in some luxury self-care, or seeing friends, make use of the time to enjoy yourself. Your children will love to see you happy, and it’s much easier to maintain a healthy relationship with them when you’re looking after your own mental health.
If you’re worried about feeling lonely, say yes to invitations from friends and family and give yourself permission to relax and enjoy them while you’re there.
Seek help if you need it
Even if you follow the advice in this article to the letter, it’s perfectly normal to still find it difficult to spend Christmas apart from your kids. It’s crucial to have a space to talk through these feelings, which we urge you to do with family and friends.
And if you feel like you need some extra support, contact us for a private counselling appointment in the New Year.