Tips for separated parents at Christmas  

Christmas can be a challenging time for separated parents. You will likely both want to spend time with your child. Sometimes, one parent may not be able to see their child.  

If you can, work with your ex-partner to make arrangements with your child in mind.  

Co-parenting: a parent picking up a laughing child in front of a field of pine trees

Know the legal situation

Some separated parents will have a court order that dictates when you can each see your child. If you have a court order, be aware of what’s included. 

Some people will make an agreement when they separate without a court involved. If this is the case, you may need to have a conversation with your ex-partner to work out a plan for Christmas.  

See more information on making child arrangements when you separate from your partner. 

Think about your child's needs

Try to keep your child’s feelings at the heart of your plans. They may feel sad about not seeing their other parent, or upset at how things have changed.  

Creating new traditions might help with these feelings. See what you can do together to have fun in the moment rather than focusing on what Christmas used to be like.

Be prepared to compromise

Successful co-parenting needs compromise and communication. Think about how you can make the agreement feel fair. If your relationship with your ex-partner is positive, can you spend some of the day together? Or split key days between you. You may also need to consider extended family. 

If direct conversation isn’t possible, there are different ways to agree arrangements. Communicate through a neutral third party or access a mediation service.

Present a united front

Once you have a plan, try to present a united front to the children. Be positive about what’s going to happen. Make any move between homes as calm and cheerful as possible. 

Christmas will be different after separation. But it can still be special time for you and your child. Think of it as an opportunity to create new memories and traditions together. 

If you can't see your child

There are ways to be part of your child’s Christmas even if you can’t be with them in person. You could arrange a video call with them on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Or watch a favourite festive film at the same time and talk about the best parts. TeleParty (previously Netflix Party) allows you to chat during the film and play or pause at the same time. 

Make plans together for the next time you’ll see them. Plan an early or delayed ‘mini-Christmas’ of your own. 

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