Christmas should be a time for celebration and relaxation. But for families who’ve recently been through divorce or separation, it can be one that also throws up lots of concern. And, in 2020, considering coronavirus risks and restrictions has to be part of our festive thinking.
Here are some thoughts on making sure your Christmas is memorable for the right reasons.
Your children and their happiness are the number one priority. Christmas for many families is a time of tradition where the places we visit and the people we see are integral parts of a once-a-year set of rituals. If those traditions have been knocked aside by separation, then it pays to plan early to think how you’ll celebrate instead.
Bear in mind coronavirus restrictions will still be in place with different areas in different Tiers. While there’s a five-day break between December 23 and 27 allowing up to three families to meet, be clear on what you can and can’t do. (Children of separated parents can move between both their family bubbles outside of those dates.) Unfortunately, big spontaneous Christmas and New Year gatherings are a no-no this year.
It’s important that everyone, but children in particular, know what’s happening and when. If they’ve been used to opening presents early in the morning with both parents and that’s not going to happen this year, make sure they understand what the new arrangements are going to be. And make it sound as fun and exciting as you’d want it to be. Also consider who else is affected by new arrangements. If co-parenting make sure you both have a clear picture of how the days are going to shape up.
If a traditional visit to grandparents on Boxing Day is going to happen in a different form or at a different time this year, then the best way to ensure peace of mind for all is by explaining new plans with those concerned in plenty of time.
Any holiday time is always precious. Your Christmas may well be different this year but when looking back you want it to contain lots of happy memories. As parents we go out of our way to ensure children have the best time possible. That needn’t mean the most expensive gift or lavish surprise, but it should mean enjoying some quality time together doing things you all like to do. Movie days, board games, family walks – all can become cherished memories.
It’s an emotional time of year. Taking a break from our work routines and having more space to think can trigger all kinds of emotions in people. Add in the stresses and strains of this of all years and there’s plenty of reason why emotional reactions may be closer to the surface in 2020.
If you’ve recently divorced then you may well be feeling emotionally vulnerable. Try not to let situations or the time of year get on top of you. There’s media – and social media – pressure to put on ‘the perfect Christmas’ but there’s no such thing. Do what’s right for you. It’s ok not to feel great about your new circumstances but try to keep things in perspective – all things pass.
Divorce can be difficult and the reasons that led to that separation can take time to heal – and in some cases never do. But re-living your frustrations or fallout with your ex is not something that should ever be done through children. They’ve got enough going on, let them enjoy this time. Be civil about your ex and model for children the behaviour to other adults that you would like to see.
Got your own thoughts on Christmas 2020? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org
We’ve spoken previously with solicitor and mediator Maura McKibbin about making new family traditions.
I WILL BE ETERNALLY GRATEFUL. AMANDA MAKES YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE HER ONLY CLIENT AND HOLDS YOUR HAND TO GUIDE YOU THROUGH