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Creating Calm amidst Christmas Chaos

Don't kill the messenger but Christmas is not that far away! My key bit of advice is get ahead of the chaos and start conversations with your ex partner early to allow time to agree a plan that works for everyone. P.S. this is inevitably going to require a lot of compromise!

Christmas is a fantasy fuelled time of the year. Saccharine imagery of the “perfect” family making “perfect” memories filled with love and laughter are really the last thing you need to be faced with during or soon after a divorce or separation, especially when children are involved. It will probably be difficult and you may feel emotional but remember this is how you feel right now, it won’t be how you’ll feel forever.

Here are some tips to try and ease the discomfort.

Get a solid parenting plan in place so that everyone, including the children, know where they stand. Having one helps to avoid disagreements and the need for negotiations. If you don’t have a parenting plan then start the conversations early to get plans agreed in advance so that whether your kids are with you or not, you can plan for the time you have with and without them.

Where possible avoid splitting Christmas day. If you are on good terms with your ex partner and it is appropriate to spend the day together or for them to come over to your house at some point then that is great. If you aren’t on good terms or if communication is difficult then splitting the day is a recipe for disaster and stress. Either way moving the children between two homes on Christmas day is disruptive for everyone involved but especially for them.

Avoid present competition. If your children split time between 2 homes they are going to have a lot of things and likely receive double the presents. Don’t use this time to try for one-upmanship over your ex partner as you will only over stretch yourself financially and ask yourself, what type of example do you want to be setting for your children? Set yourself a strict budget and stick to it and consider buying experiences to share together, as opposed to endless presents just to bump up the number of gifts under the tree.

Start new traditions instead of trying to recreate the past. If you used to do specific things when you were still with your ex partner consider letting go of those and trying something new. Is there something you always wanted to do but couldn’t? Or something that you were always forced to do that you no longer have to? Making your own traditions is a powerful way to create a sense of unity and comfort within your new styled family unit, get your children involved by asking them what they’d like to do if age appropriate.

If you are on your own for Christmas day this year then really try to put yourself first. Avoid drowning your sorrows with endless festive booze and eating chocolates for breakfast, lunch and dinner. While it might feel good in the moment stuffing your emotions down will only make you feel worse in the long run. Make plans for the time you are alone so you have some structure and things to look forward to. Could you meet friends at the pub, go for a walk or even go away for a short break? Focus on self care and doing things that re energise you. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good and avoid being alone even if it feels like the safer option and finally, stay off social media!

Comparison is the thief of joy. What works for you and your family will not be what works for others and vice versa. Try not to compare yourself to your friends or other family members, it’s important to remember that even so-called happy families are unlikely to be having the perfect Christmas. With all the pressure we put on ourselves there is inevitably disappointment, frustration and raised voices, one snap shot on social media will only portray the best moment not the whole holiday.

Your children are unlikely to remember what you said to them on the 25th December or any other day of the holidays and in time they won’t remember what you bought them. They will however remember how you made the feel, so working to create a happy, joy fuelled holiday full of wholesome fun and a feeling of safety and security is far more important than the date you celebrate Christmas with them.

If you want some help getting ahead of Christmas, creating a parenting plan or managing your emotions then please get in touch to find out more about how coaching can help your particular situation.


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