How to Prepare for Christmas Following a Separation
The holidays are coming… but the advent of the festive season may feel very different if you have recently separated from your partner. The first Christmas following divorce or separation is never easy, but there are steps you can take to look to the future and create a new tradition.
Coping with the Christmas period alone
If you’re used to spending Christmas with a partner, doing it alone may be a daunting prospect. If you carry on as if nothing has happened, the difference on Christmas Day may feel overwhelming. One option is to take the opportunity to do something different; jet off on an exotic holiday, volunteer in a care home or link up with friends.
If you have children
Your children will also be facing their first Christmas with separated parents. If you can, work with your ex-partner to help your children cope with the changes. Plan your child arrangements ahead of time, organising where they are staying and when, so that there aren’t any unwelcome surprises.
There are a number of options for Christmas Day itself, and the arrangements you make will depend on your family.
- Alternate years. Many parents take it in turns to host Christmas Day, with children sharing it with one parent one year, and the other, the next. This is a fair, predictable and practical arrangement, especially if you and your ex-partner live far away from each other. If you find yourself without the children for Christmas Day, arrange an alternative celebration with other family members, ensuring you can recreate the excitement and level of togetherness you know and have come to expect. And make sure you arrange an alternative ‘Christmas Day’ for you and the children – who says that presents and Turkey are only for 25th December?
- Spend it all together. If you had an amicable separation, you might decide to spend the day together. But make sure this is something you are both prepared to do. For your first Christmas after separation, you may not feel ready for a festive reunion and it is important that everyone involved is comfortable and that the children are not confused by the arrangements.
- Split the day in half. The children could spend the morning with one parent, before going to the other parent later in the day. This could offer the best of both worlds, but make sure you agree on the logistics. Doubling up on Christmas dinners or having to leave home just as they want to play with their presents may not be in the best interest of your children.
Start new traditions
You will have had a year full of change and upheaval – and Christmas is likely to be no different. If you can, see this as an opportunity to create new traditions; rituals with your family and friends that set the pattern for the future. Involve your children in deciding how you’ll celebrate this special time of year – they may surprise you with their ideas.
With the loss of your partner, it’s important to reach out and make the most of your connection with family and friends. Perhaps you could include them in your new traditions? Your loved ones are likely to play a big part in your social network going forward.