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Megan Dansie

- 11 Dec 2015
  • Family Law

How to get through Christmas if you’re separated and need to share the children with your ex

Christmas is an important time of year for families but it can also be very stressful if parents no longer live together.

What you need to do is focus on what the children want, not what you want.

It’s not always about fairness and remember, do children really care who they are with when they open their presents on Christmas morning?

The key to surviving what can be a tricky time is to be flexible and let your kids’ needs determine your planning.

This means thinking ahead about how you can help them smoothly transition to the other parent’s home.

Don’t surprise them with last minute changes. Children like knowing what’s going on so sort out Christmas arrangements as early as possible so they are prepared.

Confirm these details with your ex via email or text to ensure there is no misunderstanding.

If you have a court order or parenting plan, check in advance to see if it covers Christmas, and also, that you both understand the agreement.

Consider having your Christmas celebrations on different days. Celebrating on Christmas Eve or Boxing Day in one house, and Christmas Day in the other may be less tiring for the children.

This holds great appeal to children as most will jump at the chance to have two Christmases and double the fun.

Consider swapping the “special” times each year, so the parent who has Christmas Eve and present opening gets Christmas lunch and Boxing Day the next year.

Finally, allow the children some down time. Being cranky and tired will not make for a good Christmas for anyone!