Christmas should be a time of celebration spent with those you love. Here in Queensland, we’re blessed with beautiful weather during the festive season (and you can count on an evening thunderstorm or two). Backyard Christmas parties, fresh seafood and lots of family activities are quintessential!
However, if you are in a co-parenting arrangement, being separated from your child during a family holiday can be a stressful, emotional and lonely time. To make the best out of the situation it requires understanding, communication and, above all, a firm focus on what’s best for your child.
Here are three tips to consider this festive season.
1. Put your children first
It’s best to keep your children’s best interests front of mind, as you make plans for Christmas. A child’s psychological and emotional wellbeing can be affected detrimentally by witnessing their parents arguing over custody issues. Of course, it’s understandable that as a parent you want to spend quality time with your children during any celebration, but your interests should not come at the expense of your children’s wellbeing.
Ask them what they would like to do. Keeping them informed and having some control over what happens can be reassuring for them and help them enjoy the time they spend with both parents as much as possible.
2. Make plans ahead of time
To ensure that the time around Christmas goes smoothly, it is a good idea to agree to a schedule in advance with your ex-spouse. You might agree that one parent will spend time with the kids in the days leading up to and including Christmas, and the other will spend time with them in the days following Christmas. You might even divide up the day itself, the morning with one parent and the afternoon with the other.
However, always keep in mind the first point: be guided by what is in the best interests of the child. It can be quite discomforting and stressful for children to be ferried around in a seemingly haphazard manner. There are often long commutes to factor in, such as breakfast with family on the Sunshine Coast before lunch with more family in Brisbane. Communicate with them so they understand exactly what plans are in place.
3. Look after yourself
It can be a lonely experience to have to spend a family holiday without your children, especially if this is the first time, and it’s important to attend to your own emotional wellbeing. Make plans and keep yourself busy. Perhaps a walk down the Mooloolaba Esplanade or Brisbane River – both are gorgeous spots to relax, take a breath and enjoy the view. Spending time and celebrating with other family members can provide emotional support during a tough period.
And just remember, even if you don’t get to spend Christmas Day with your child, you can always organise to have a second Christmas Day on another date. Doing something a little different from the usual traditions can be fun and exciting after all – it’s likely your children won’t mind celebrating twice!
Going through a divorce as a parent is always difficult, but the experienced team at Life Law Solutions can help make the process as smooth as possible. If you need assistance finalising a parenting agreement or have questions regarding your family law matter, contact us today.