While your first post-break-up Christmas will feel hard, do be assured that over time the emotional strain will mellow. Both you, your ex and the children will adapt and new traditions, along with a new normal, will gradually evolve.
Meanwhile, if you are recently separated and dreading the festive season, here are some ideas to help you navigate Christmas in the most positive way possible.
If neither of you can bear the thought of not spending Christmas day with your children, consider whether it is possible for you to spend the day as near to your normal Christmas as possible. This will allow the children to enjoy their traditional Christmas and neither of you will need to spend the day alone.
If you are both unable to be together, you could have one parent dropping by to where the children will be for a short visit, meet up for a family walk or even split the day between both homes. Try to always put the children at the centre of any festive plans and explain to them beforehand what the arrangements will be.
If your extended families will be involved in your celebrations, do explain beforehand that both you and your ex have decided to spend time together for the sake of the children. Emphasise that you want them to have a happy Christmas and try to ward off any alcohol-fuelled recriminations and accusations.
While we all know that images of other people’s perfect Christmases are rarely a reflection of the truth, emotionally it can still hurt. It’s important to remember that everyone has issues, challenges and problems and simply focus on making your Christmas celebrations as good as they can be.
While you may find yourself mourning Christmases past, you do have the opportunity to create new traditions. These could include a games night with friends, a Christmas breakfast with relatives or a self-indulgent day of movies and fine foods.
Try not to get into competitive gift-giving – it’s expensive and your children will not benefit from any over-indulgence. If it’s possible either set a budget with your ex, or combine forces and still give the children a joint present from you both.
Try not to feel overwhelmed by planning the ‘perfect’ day which will make you feel under added pressure. Instead, try focusing on small moments such as playing a board game together, watching a film, baking some biscuits or going for a walk. These moments offer a chance for shared connection, which is far more meaningful and satisfying than elaborate and expensive arrangements.