How to get through the first Christmas without the kids

01 December 2021

If you find yourself facing your first Christmas without your children after a divorce or separation, our family law solicitors have put together some guidance.

With coronavirus cases rising and uncentainty around restrictions, Christmas celebrations are likely to be unusual again this year. Even if restrictions are introduced though, these should have a minimal impact on child contact arrangements and the transfer of children from one home to another.

Making christmas arrangements

The first Christmas after a separation or divorce can be difficult, especially when there are children involved. Instead of the whole family spending the festive season together, decisions will need to be made about where the children will wake up on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, where they'll open their presents and where they will have their Christmas dinner.

All of a sudden, Christmas can become focussed around negotiations, transport logistics and, in many cases, court orders. Arrangements will need to be made around who will spend time with the children at what times, with decisions sometimes being taken out of the parents' hands. In previous years, almost half of the children matters that Co-op Legal Services' Family Law team dealt with were in the last 4 months of the year as parents prepared for the Christmas period.

It can be a struggle to work out the practicalities while also ensuring that each of the parents (and possibly grandparents) get to spend quality time with the children over Christmas. Inevitably, one or both parents could find themselves without their children for some of the holidays.

So how can parents get through this?

One of the most important things to remember if you're in this situation is that the children will just want to celebrate Christmas with their family. They're unlikely to mind exactly what this looks like, and if they can celebrate Christmas twice, on two different days, then even better! Be flexible and make the most of the time that you spend with your children, regardless of which day this falls on.

Christmas traditions

Christmas is known as a time for bringing families together, and this can be very hard to face when you're approaching the first Christmas after a divorce. It's may be that traditions have developed over time that you've played out year after year as a family, and it can be difficult to accept that these traditions no longer apply.

Instead of longing for what once was, try to look to the future. Come up with some ideas of fun, festive activities that you can do together and find ways to make new traditions with your kids.

Tackling loneliness

If you find yourself spending time alone around Christmas, particularly on Christmas Day, then feelings of loneliness and isolation can peak.

Speak to friends and family members to see what their plans are – you might be able to get involved with those (subject to coronavirus restrictions). For some it may be that spending time with family isn't the right option. If this is the case, then why not change the way you approach Christmas?

If travel is permitted, you could go on a trip, returning home when it's your turn to have the children. Or you could seek out and connect with other people who are in the same situation, either over the phone, online, or face to face if restrictions allow.

Alternatively, you could also look into volunteering on Christmas Day. There are a lot of organisations that would be grateful for your time. Many charities will be adapting their activities this year to comply with coronavirus measures, but there may still be opportunities available. Refocusing your energy and spending the day helping others can be an effective way of getting through Christmas without the kids.

Staying positive

If you have any feelings of anger or resentment, try to put these to one side, and instead focus on giving the kids the Christmas they deserve. Try to avoid getting caught up in arguments or speaking in a negative way about your ex. Remember that, at the end of the day, the children will just want to enjoy the holidays and spend time with their family.

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