1. Put your children first
This goes without saying, but in the midst of all the festivities and last-minute shopping, it’s always worth reminding yourself that Christmas is a particularly special time of year for your children. Minimise conflict, don’t argue in front of them and don’t denigrate the other parent in earshot. Sometimes it’s not easy to hold your tongue, but being respectful and non-judgmental will result in a happier experience for your children.
2. Compromise (and don’t just say you will!)
In theory, making sure that you and your former partner each get to enjoy Christmas with your children sounds like a very good idea. However, in practice it’s easier said than done. This is especially so if it seems that you just don’t have enough quality time with them. Putting yourself in the other parent’s shoes will help you think more clearly about each other’s needs and those of your children.
3. Plan ahead
No-one likes to have too much ‘organised fun’, but a clear structure upon which you both agree in advance should help minimise any last-minute confusion for arrangements over the Christmas period.
4. Be clear on the details
If you and your former partner have made particular arrangements about how the children will divide their time, then consider the fine detail too, such as specific arrangements for drop off and return, telephone/FaceTime/Skype calls etc. Plan for any hiccups, such as agreeing a window of time in which to make a phone call rather than a specific time.
5. Two Christmases can be better than one
For children whose parents have recently separated, Christmas can be quite a confusing (and potentially upsetting) prospect. Depending on their ages, reminding them that they’ll be getting two Christmases can be quite an effective way of getting them on board!
6. And don’t forget to make sure Father Christmas has both addresses!