Breakups are always hard. But the more of a commitment you have made, the more of a life you have shared, and the longer you have been together the harder it becomes. Breakups are perhaps never harder than when you share children. Not only do you have to cope with the pain of a relationship ending. You also have to navigate new ways to do things, maintain some kind of relationship throughout, and prioritize your children’s needs.
After a loss of any kind, it’s often the firsts that get to us. The first birthday after loss, the first Christmas, the first family holiday, and so on. If this is your first Christmas as a newly separated family, whether you’ve just broken up or it’s been closer to a year, it’s bound to be difficult. You’ll be contending with sadness, protecting your children, and trying to find a new way of doing things. There may be battles to fight, schedules to change and other elements to consider. But the most important thing is that you all find a way to enjoy the holidays, even if it’s vastly different from your old way. Here are some tips to help you.
Know Where You Are At
Separations come in all different shapes and sizes and moving on comes in different stages. It’s important, going into Christmas, that you know where you are at, and there are no doubts. If you haven’t already sought legal assistance, this can be a good time to do it. Fullenweider Wilhite is a family law firm with many years of experience. At Fullenweider Wilhite, divorce attorneys in Houston will use their experience to help you at this difficult time. Finding the right divorce attorney in Houston can make the whole process much easier and less painful for everyone involved.
Make Your Child Number One
With every plan or decision that you make, make sure that your child is number one. Consider their feelings, think about how your decisions will affect their Christmas, and prioritize giving them a magical holiday. This will help you to enjoy it too, even if sometimes it means you need to make some sacrifices.
Don’t Do Things Together
If you are newly separated and things are civil, you might be tempted to try to do things together, to maintain the feeling of family and keep old traditions going. But this can be a mistake. In the long run, it can make things harder, and you might find that feelings become confused for all of you and that it’s easy to get carried away with the romance of the holidays.
Be Considerate of Your Ex-Partner
Not doing things together doesn’t mean that you can’t be a considerate ex. Remember your ex-partner is facing a different kind of Christmas too. Try to be as fair as you possibly can over the holidays.
Be Very Clear on Plans
Try not to be vague with plans or arrangements. Be very clear about where your children will be and when, who is picking up and dropping off, and exactly where their time will be spent. If possible, get everything written down, even in a text message, so that you can refer back to it if needed.
Consider Extended Family
When it comes to Christmas, your breakup might not just be affecting you and your ex-partner. Extended members of yours and their family like grandparents will also want to spend some time with your children. Make sure they can, and that everyone receives a small gift and card.
Don’t Feel You Have to Stick to the Norms
There are different ways to share custody over Christmas. Many families split the day, with the child traveling between two homes during Christmas day itself. This works for some, but if you live further apart or your children are older, you might not want them to split their day in half. They might not want to either.
Don’t feel like you need to stick to the norms. If you’d prefer to share differently, that’s ok.
Create Some New Traditions
This is a great time to start some new traditions with your children. Think about the elements of Christmas that you love, or perhaps things that you did as a child but never did with your ex-partner. Ask your children if there are any traditions that they’d like to try and give things a go. Not everything will stick, but some things you’ll do year after year.
Be Prepared for Time without Your Child
Perhaps the hardest part of your first Christmas as a newly separated parent is spending time without your child. We get used to Christmas being all about the kids and when they aren’t around the magic seems to stop. You are bound to be upset and lonely, even if you’ve been looking forward to some time alone. So, make sure you’ve got some plans and things to fill your time, and don’t be tempted to check in with your ex all of the time.
This Christmas isn’t the end of something. Your relationship has already ended. It’s the start of a new way of doing things, it’s exciting as much as it is challenging. Take your time and work with your ex to create a new kind of Christmas for all of you.
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