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Parenting arrangements through the Christmas period

For those who celebrate, Christmas is an exciting and busy time, which can be difficult to manage for everybody, but especially so when trying to navigate co-parenting and sharing time with your child throughout the festive period.

For many, Christmas is a time for family, traditions, and time at home, so deciding how to share that time with your child’s other parent can be a difficult and sometimes emotional topic. The earlier you can come to an agreement on a schedule, the easier it will be to make plans and make Christmas special for your own family however you choose to celebrate.

As with any other time of year, the key thing is to prioritise what is best for your child or children, and work together with their other parent as much as possible to find an arrangement that allows you all to enjoy the magic and excitement, without putting any pressure on the children to make any decisions. There are many different ways to approach a schedule for the Christmas period. It is important to remember that what works for one family may not work for another, and there are many factors that come into play, such as the age of the children, the communication between the parents, and how much travelling each party will have to do to facilitate the contact.

It is important to communicate with each other if there are any days of this period that are particularly important to you; it may be that one parent attends Midnight Mass every year or hosts the annual New Year’s Eve party with their extended family, or it could be that there are other children involved, with other parenting agreements to work around. If this is similar to your situation, it might work well for your child or children to spend the Christmas period with one parent, and then New Years with the other parent.

Many parents may find it more fitting to alternate each day – so that one parent has Christmas Eve, and one parent has Christmas Day. Although this requires more travelling, this could be a great solution so that both parents can be involved in the excitement of presents and Santa visiting. If you are sharing the days, make sure to clearly communicate about travel arrangements, including timings, to minimise stress or confusion.

It is also common for parents to agree to alternate whichever arrangements are chosen each year; for example, when one parent has the child on Christmas Day this year, the other parent would have the Child on Christmas Day next year. This could minimise the need to transport the children back and forth and reduce the need for parents to leave their own celebrations to facilitate the changeover.

Separated parents may also want to consider other elements of sharing Christmas. Consider checking in with each other about gifts to avoid buying the same presents or talking about how Santa will be involved in each household, to make Christmas as magical as possible for your children.

Although it may be difficult to decide a schedule over Christmas, remember that you can make any day that you do spend with your child special. Plan in advance to avoid any conflict or confusion, and surround yourself with your loved ones even on the days where your child is celebrating with the other side of their family, so that all of you can make happy memories and create new traditions.

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