Deciding on Christmas childcare arrangements

With festive lights, Christmas advertising and advent calendars in full swing, the season of goodwill is fast approaching. Yet for many of those who are separated or divorced, deciding on care for the children can make it a difficult holiday to navigate. Given this, we’ve put together some advice to help families reach an agreement on childcare to help minimise the stress.

Make decisions and plans for the children long before the Big Day

It’s important not to leave any decisions on childcare until the last moment. It helps the children feel more secure to know in advance how and where they will be spending the Christmas period. And while the adults may not be entirely happy with the arrangement, it does give them the opportunity and time to plan their own special events with the children even if this not on Christmas Day itself.

Spend time talking honestly with your ex-partner

While it can be hard to put your personal feelings aside, do try and talk honestly with your ex about what is best for the children and how they can spend time with both of you and your wider families. If this feels too overwhelming, you could ask a trusted friend to mediate between you and your ex or even book a mediation session with a Family Mediator trained to help you both reach an agreement.

Arrange to share the Christmas period

Many couples agree to alternate the arrangements each year, with the children spending alternate Christmases with each parent. For example, one parent may spend time with the children on Christmas Eve and part of Christmas Day, while the other parent has part of Christmas Day and Boxing Day and then the following year they swap.

Spend the holiday together

Clearly this is not an option for many people, but if you and your ex are able to put your differences to one side and make the celebrations all about the children, this can be a good way forward. However, it can be confusing for young children who may not understand why both parents can share time together with them for a day but not in the long term.

Spending Christmas alone

Your first Christmas without the children can feel overwhelmingly difficult. The sense of loss for family life is hard to cope with. Try to remember that it is just another day and if you’re spending it alone, try to indulge yourself with your favourite type of self-care, whether that’s food, music, movies, or a long soak in the bath. It can be helpful to start thinking about creating new traditions for the children or to hook up with other friends who may also be alone and dreading the Big Day.

Take specialist advice

If you find that you are still unable to reach a sensible agreement, it would be wise to seek legal advice from a family solicitor. One way of potentially resolving the issue is collaborative law, where both parties instruct a solicitor, and everyone sits round the table together to try to reach a compromise.


As a specialist firm of family lawyers, we have a wealth of experience in helping couples to separate and divorce as amicably as possible. We have two trained family mediators and three of our solicitors are trained in collaborative law. If you are struggling with issues arising from separation and divorce, we offer a no obligation 60-minute initial consultation for £100 (incl. VAT). This will give you the opportunity to receive legal advice relevant to your personal circumstances.

To book a consultation, please call us on 01444 472700, email or complete the form below.

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