Getting Your Christmas Co-Parenting Arrangements Sorted

October 9, 2019

Whether you are newly separated and navigating your first Christmas as co-parents, or deciding how to evolve your arrangements as your children grow up and circumstances change, these are our top tips for sorting your co-parenting arrangements for Christmas this year:

Find a balance that works best for you 

Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box to find a balance that works best for you, your children, and your Ex. It can be easy to get caught up in what the ‘perfect family Christmas’ should look like. 

Remember that there isn’t one ‘perfect’ way to celebrate Christmas and the holidays. The options are endless, but here are a few that are worth considering:

  • Your children could spend Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with one parent, and Christmas afternoon and Boxing Day with the other parent. 
  • You could choose to alternate each year between you and your Ex based on what suits each person’s extended family best. 
  • If you and your Ex feel comfortable to do so, you could consider celebrating some of Christmas Day together and if you do, what are the logistics and boundaries for this arrangement to work. 

There is no ‘one size fits all’ way that Christmas should be celebrated. Create your own traditions and find a balance that works for your family.

Communicate with your Ex and children

One of the most important factors to implement in your plan is communication and consistency with your children and your Ex. Once you have a plan, everyone (including your children) should be in the loop with what’s happening. 

Children thrive off consistency and feel reassured by knowing what is happening next. If you have decided to alternate Christmases or switch the usual days your child is with each parent, communicate this to your child. 

Let your children be involved to some extent, and reassure them of not only what the plan for Christmas this year is, but also what the plan is for the future (e.g. reassure them that if they are spending Christmas Eve & Morning with you this year, and Christmas Afternoon & Boxing Day with their other parent, that next year will be the opposite). Make sure everyone is onboard and understands the plan.

Consider the logistics

When developing your co-parenting arrangements for Christmas, ensure you consider the logistical side of things. 

Is there a geographical distance between you and your Ex’s extended family? Is it more practical for your children to spend a few days leading up to or after Christmas with each parent, rather than splitting Christmas and Boxing Day?

If travel is involved, how is this going to work and what information should be shared with the other parent about the travel itinerary? What plans need to be put in place around telephone or video calls during this time?

Consider how you can both work together to make the situation less stressful for your child and all involved.

Prepare yourself emotionally

The Christmas and holiday season can be an emotional time, especially when navigating the realities of co-parenting. No parent wants to miss special occasions with their children and there is no time this is felt more than when you are away from your kids at Christmas.  

Remember feeling this way is completely understandable. Spending time apart from your children is difficult, so it’s important to show yourself some compassion during this time and surround yourself with positivity and support. 

Communicate your co-parenting arrangement and any fears or concerns you may have with your family and friends. Having a good support system in place means someone is always looking out for you and can help you feel more supported through tough periods.

At the same time, be mindful that when emotions are running higher, our communication may not be the best and can slip into being reactive, even when you don’t intend it to. 

Come up with a plan for communicating with your Ex to avoid reactive communications that you will only admonish yourself for later or increase the potential for conflict. 

Shift your perspective

Try your best to be respectful and understanding of everyone’s feelings and see things from your Ex’s perspective too. 

Overall, the best advice we can give when developing your Christmas co-parenting agreement is to keep the best interests of your child at the forefront of all decisions made. 

Children love Christmas and want to spend time with both of their parents on this day. While this isn’t always possible or the most practical solution, try to be a positive influence to your child at this time in spite of differences you may have with your Ex. 

Avoid making comments to your child about how sad you will be without them, and instead take this opportunity to set a positive example for your children about working well with others and adapting to change. 

Keep things friendly and reassure your child of not only the fun and traditions they will have with you, but also the fun and traditions they will have with their other parent. 

If you need further assistance navigating the best solution for your co-parenting Christmas arrangements, contact us to book your free 30-minute CLARITY CALL today.



This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or any other professional advice.

Feeling unsure where to start?

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Feeling unsure where to start?

Let us guide you through what’s involved in untangling your relationship and give you the tools to set yourself up to move forward.

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