The Challenges of Christmas and The School Holidays

Considering the arrangements for Christmas is often a challenging time for separated families. Working out the time for children to spend time with each of their parents, as well as their wider family, can be the subject of a lot of dispute. 

Changing family units inevitably mean a change in routine and that applies very much in the festive period. After years of working with separated parents, I have seen how much of a struggle it can be for parents to come to terms with the idea that their children will wake up on Christmas Day, away from them in this traditional family period. 

The best advice I can give to parents is to think about what their children want and need. It is important for children to have regular time with both of their parents and the Christmas holidays are no exception.  Many families alternate Christmas Day year on year, with children spending Christmas Eve and Day with one of their parents and perhaps Boxing Day with the other parent.  This gives children the opportunity to experience this magical time with both their parents and provides an easy structure for even young children to understand. However, in the modern day many parents may have new partners who themselves have children, so Christmas might include exciting, or daunting, new children; so it is best to forewarn, to avoid any surprises.  

When thinking ahead to Christmas, what are your options if you and your ex cannot agree arrangements? Mediation can help you and your ex talk through issues in a supportive, non confrontational environment. At Ashtons, we offer an initial meeting at no charge, to anyone who wants to find out more about the mediation process.  

Tina Inniss is a member of the national body Resolution, and through them, a trained mediator.