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Surviving Christmas as a separated dad

Maya Griffiths

Maya Griffiths

If you are separated or divorced, the thought of Christmas can be really hard- you may even be dreading it. We’ve put together some helpful ideas to help you get through it in one piece.

Surround yourself with family and friends

Go with the old adage “The more the merrier!” and try and make plans to spend time with family and friends. They will be a great support to you, particularly if this is your first Christmas as a single dad. People are a great distraction. If you have the children with you this year, family and friends will instil some fun and festivity.  Don’t worry if you have a down moment. Just go with the flow as best you can. Also, remember that you are surrounded by people who love and care about you.

Make new family traditions

Traditions are very emotive and can cause you (and your children) unnecessary upset. You can’t recreate what has been lost and so don’t try. Instead, take the opportunity to create new traditions. It doesn’t mean that you should avoid a visit to see Santa, or that you shouldn’t go and see the local Christmas lights switched on. Just do it differently, or bring new elements to the festivities. 

Why not get the kids to make some paper chains, make the lounge look festive and have a Christmas Movie Night with popcorn? They might also enjoy making some Christmas biscuits, or decorating their bedrooms with new decorations. Let your imagination run wild and have fun!

Don’t feel guilty

This is a hard one, but don’t beat yourself up if your children go between you and your ex on Christmas day. It may be that due to logistical issues the children have to miss out seeing one parent altogether. You can try and sell it to them that they will have two Christmases. This may work to some degree, but don’t be surprised if you don’t get the positive response that you’d hoped for. They may be confused about how that would work. 

If you have an amicable relationship with your ex, then get together and plan the day in advance to suit everyone. Even if you’re unable to do this, reassure the kids that it will still be a special day and that they won’t miss out. You can’t change what has happened so let the guilt go and plan positively.

Working together

If you can, it’s important that you and your ex work together on all things surrounding the festive season. From attending school plays and events, to what you do on the big day – don’t leave the children guessing, that will only breed insecurities.

Don’t compete with each other for the biggest and best presents – that’s not going to work for the children or your bank balance. If you have an amicable relationship, compile a kids’ Christmas list between you, then divide and conquer – there’s nothing worse for the kids than getting duplicate presents (unless that’s what they want of course!). The best thing that you can give them is your time, reassurance and love – with some careful planning you can make it enjoyable for all concerned.

Charity work

If you can’t be with your children at Christmas then why not keep yourself occupied with some charity work. For example, your local church may well be hosting a Christmas lunch for the elderly or homeless. Local shelters or soup kitchens always need extra hands as well. There is nothing like helping those less fortunate than yourself to build self-esteem and make you feel better about your own circumstances – it can be very rewarding.  Why not check out this website or search on the internet for something in your area.

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