With Christmas Day less than two weeks away, it can be a challenging time for parents who are separating to reach an agreement about how children should spend their time over the festive break.

It is important to remember that arrangements over Christmas can produce a considerable amount of stress for both adults and children. This stress can be minimised by careful planning and focussing on the children’s needs.

For parents who have recently separated or are in the process of separating, these are some suggestions which may help.

Talk to the other parent

Whenever possible, set aside time to discuss plans with the other parent beforehand.

Plan ahead

Think through how you would like to spend time with your children. Consider making a calendar in advance to show the children how time will be spent between households.

Talk to your children

Don’t ask the children to choose between you but listen to their ideas, discuss what is possible and then do your best to incorporate some of their suggestions. Instead of just informing children about plans over Christmas, consider talking with them.

Support your children’s relationship with the other parent

Convey a positive attitude about your child spending time with the other parent. Some children may struggle with missing the parent they are not with during longer periods of time. Children can maintain contact with the absent parent by way of regular telephone calls, emails or via FaceTime and Skype.

Practical Considerations

Discuss Christmas presents, travel arrangements and which activities each of you will attend. This will avoid unnecessary conflict and arguments which can cause stress and upset for the adults and children involved.

By adopting these suggestions what can be a difficult time will be more enjoyable for everyone, so plan ahead and have a wonderful Christmas.

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