Navigating The Holiday Season After Separation

Accept that it is going to be different this year and acknowledge that you are doing your best

When it comes to the festive season, it can bring some tricky elements to navigate if you have separated, have children and are a so called ‘split family’. I am not a fan of the phrase split family- it has a negative feeling attached to it. I would prefer to call it a double family- because you end up getting two- and with more people to love and more people to love you and look out for you, how can that be bad?!  Yes, yes, of course the ideal is staying as a unit- but that is only the ideal if that unit is a happy, nurturing one. If it isn’t, it can be a very toxic place to be and is far healthier for all involved, including the children, to go separate ways.



I digress- the separation has happened, and now you need to manage a new situation. Situations are cropping up all the time, childcare, school decisions, holidays…..and Christmas! 


So here we are. Of course each party will have their own thoughts and preferences- here are my top tips to reaching an agreement and making it go as smoothly as possible: 



* Keep in mind that whatever the outcome, you want this to be as peaceful as possible.


You want to make it a fun and warm experience for your children and for them to see that it is still a joyful time. They are your number one priority- if you do best by them you have done best for yourself. 



*Put aside ill thoughts and feelings.


This might be hard depending on your situation, however putting them aside for now will make it much easier to reach an agreement that you are all happy with. If you are really struggling with this, say to yourself ‘I have plenty of time for more processing later. For now, I am going to put this aside, for the highest good of all concerned’. You are allowing yourself breathing space so that you can make the most of the Christmas period.


* Lower the barriers and open communication.


You need to have some discussions and make some plans. Having placed aside your ill feelings and lowered your barriers to where you comfortably can, you will find having this discussion much easier. You have to come to an agreement one way or another, surely the gentler way would be preferable. To do this you need to be open to the conversation. Open to hearing the other’s wishes and suggestions. Open to possibilities and compromise. 


*Yes- compromise.


Hear all the options. Propose your own. But really do be open to compromise. Neither will get exactly what they want, but try to reach an agreement where there are wins for both sides. A good way to do this is to try to view the options from a neutral position, and invite the other party to too! Imagine looking down on the situation and seeing it play out, perhaps imagining you are ‘children’s protector and keeper of peace’! Remember point one- your priority is your children’s safety and happiness. 


*Acknowledge and accept.


Accept that it is going to be different this year and acknowledge that you are doing your best. When we accept a situation rather than try to battle it we invite a certain amount of peace. Resistance is futile. Once you accept what is, you can get on and make plans in the present moment. 


* Be kind to yourself.


This situation isn’t easy and there is no right or wrong way to do it. You are doing your best, and though you might not think it, it is easier to believe that others are doing their best too. We all react and deal with things in different ways and we are at different stages of processing our own emotions, on our new journeys. Wherever you are at, it may be different for someone else. 


Each year as time moves on, wounds heal, relationships change, this will get easier. Sometimes perhaps it regresses, but you are here now. Reminding yourself of the above will help you to have a smoother and hopefully more peaceful holiday period. 


Remember- you are only in control of your own actions, inactions and reactions. You have no control over the others, however if your actions are those of reason, openness and fairness- then you may have influence over what you get back. 


If you are struggling with any of this and want to talk about it, please do not hesitate to get in touch.  

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