Christmas can be a really difficult time for separated parents. The first Christmas can be especially difficult as you adjust to the time when your children aren’t with you.  It can be doubly hard that there is a pressure to be having fun and to spend time with your family, and you aren’t able to do either.

In this blog we have included 5 tips to try to make your festive season as a separated parent as painless as possible:


  1. Make arrangements for your children that work for you.  If you both feel you will struggle without your children then consider whether you can manage to spend the time together in some capacity – even if it’s just for a few hours.  Or consider alternating days or every two days so neither of you are without your children for long periods of time.  Remember that the arrangements should be what’s best for your children; but having happier parents is probably pretty high on most children’s wish lists.
  2. Have a plan for the time when your children aren’t with you. If you can be alone and enjoy some relaxation, or watch a box set or films you’ve been saving up, or do a task you haven’t had time for, then go for it.  If you think that you will struggle to be alone without your children then ask friends or family if you can spend the day with them (if they haven’t offered already).  If this isn’t a possibility then do make sure you plan the day for yourself with distractions as much as you can.
  3. Try not to let your emotions show to your children. It can make children reluctant to go to their other parent if they think they are leaving a parent alone who will be sad and upset.  If you’re making plans then tell them what you intend to do (I’m going to spend a lovely day with Sarah, or I am going to watch a film I have been wanting to watch for ages etc etc) so they know you have plans and will be OK.
  4. You plan for the first Christmas doesn’t have to set a precedent for what you will do forever. It’s OK to put a plan in place for the first Christmas that you can both feel OK with and then change it the following year when you might feel very different and have more adjusted to the periods of time when the children are with the other parent.
  5. Remember that it is totally OK to mute/turn off/avoid stuff that makes you feel worse. If friends want you to join a family day out without your children and you don’t want to then say no (and explain if this helps).  If you find particular people or accounts on social media are making you feel worse then mute them until after Christmas.  You need to look after your own wellbeing!

If you’d like more in depth guidance on making arrangements for children and supporting your children as part of your separation then you can download a video webinar together with a workbook that will talk you through making arrangements step by step.  Have a look at our online shop.  Our shop is packed with resources to help you understand what you need to do and the resources break things down into a step by step process.

You may also find these blogs helpful:

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We also have a separate list for for professionals working with separating couples. This includes resources for professionals to share with their clients and details of our forthcoming training workshops and networking events.  Signing up also gets you a free PDF with our top 5 tips for getting more Dispute Resolution (DR) work.  Even if you’re not trained in a DR process it gives you tips to get more rewarding work and to work in a less stressful way, whilst still helping those going through a separation.

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