The Christmas and holiday period should be one of fun and joy, but for many families who are seperated or divorced, this period can be a time of sadness, disappointment and disagreement and often caught in the middle of it all is the children. Here are 10 top tips to help families get through the festive season.
1. Set plans in place and stick to them
Consistency for kids is important so set arrangements early and stick to them. This way there is less chance to for anger and manipulation and the children know what to expect without any unpleasant suprises.
2. Don’t look back
Try not to compare this holiday period with the ones before your separation. Change can be positive thing and there is no point dwelling on the past. This is your new life, it might be different, but there is no reason not to embrace it.
3. Start new traditions for your children
If this is your first Christmas as a new family unit, now is a great time to introduce some new traditions that are unique for you and the kids. Positive traditions are healthy for children and will help reset festive traditions in a positive way for everyone.
4 Set financial guidelines for gifts
Remember money can’t buy love. So don’t feel pressured into buying presents you can’t afford. Set a budget and don’t try to compete with the other parent. Keep communication open with your ex about gift ideas, how much each is spending and if they are from the parent or the man from the North Pole. This will prevent cross over and avoid one upmanship.
5. Don’t forget the family
Don’t forget that a lot of people love your children and are important to them. Unless it upsets the children, try to keep grandparents and extended family included in the holidays. But make it clear to your family that things might be done differently this year and that they are to be positive about the new arrangements in front of both you and the children.
6. If you are alone, don’t be alone
Don’t be afraid to ask for help and make sure you have plans so you don’t spiral into depression as this can impact children when they pick up on your emotions. If you are not with your children, reach out to friends who may be only too hapy to include you in their festive plans.
7. Carry on with your counselling
If you are undergoing counselling sessions it is especially important during these stressful times to keep these going for both yourself and the children.
8. Look after yourself
Eat well and keep active. Health and fitness is great for mental health Enjoy walks, take a yoga or pilates class, find a new hobby to keep yourself focused on your own wellbeing.
9. Don’t sweat the small stuff and have fun!
If you are the primary parent it can be hard to be anything but the bad cop. Take the time to have fun and not sweat the small stuff. Leave the glitter on the floor, forget the dishes and do arts & crafts, let them stay up late to watch family movies together.
10. Share in the joy
It is important to let your kids know it’s not their fault you are separated. Try to maintain that during the holidays and share the joy they have experienced with your partner even though you may feel hurt and left out. Try and make your kids feel secure and happy in the plans, even if you feel your ex is being unreasonable. If in doubt, be the bigger person. It will make your kids feel great.