How to Survive Your First Christmas Post Separation
Bah humbug?! It is called “the C word” amongst some people I know and I don’t think they are alone in acknowledging that Christmas is a stressful time for many people. Many of us drive ourselves insane trying to create the “perfect” Christmas and having the best time ever! Add in to the mix that this will be the first Christmas since you have separated from your partner, and you could be feeling quite overwhelmed. Don’t panic!
Here are my suggestions for surviving and hopefully enjoying your first post separation Christmas….
1. Plan – preparation is everything. Plan ahead for all the arrangements for the Christmas break. Yes, there are presents and food to be purchased, but there will now also be childcare arrangements to be considered. Plan in advance how everything will work best for everyone involved. Being organised will also help alleviate stress and worry.
2. Be kind to yourself – Every Christmas is full of emotion, good and bad. This one is no different. Keep a clear head and take things step by step. Look after your health before the festive bingeing begins with plenty of sleep, rest and healthy eating. Alcohol and sugary foods play havoc with our blood sugar levels which can cause mood swings. Be kind to yourself by taking good care of yourself. Give yourself the opportunity to enjoy Christmas.
3. Be flexible – Forget perfection. Don’t drive yourself nuts trying to create a “perfect” Christmas. What is that anyway? Don’t put yourself under too much pressure to have the most wonderful time. This is new territory for everyone. The danger is to cling on too hard to old family traditions in an attempt to keep things as normal as possible. Familiarity is comforting but sometimes change allows opportunity to create new traditions. Concentrate on creating new good memories.
4. Watch your spending – Don’t overcompensate for things being different this Christmas, by spending too much on gifts etc. It is not worth starting the New Year with the headache of debt that could have been avoided. As parents, there are naturally feelings of guilt associated with protecting the children through the breakdown of the family unit. It is too easy to rely on “stuff” to make the children happy. You can’t hide reality behind expensive gifts. Plan a budget and stick to it.
5. Allow yourself time off – Concentrate your time and energies on enjoying a day off from your worries. You’ll feel calmer and will be more able to enjoy the day. The best present you could give your children is happy and relaxed parents.
6. Get Support – If you are struggling with feeling stressed or sad, talk to someone. Don’t try and do it alone. Choose trusted friends or relatives to confide in how you are feeling and let them support you. Let your nearest and dearest show you how much they care. Choose to spend time with people who love you and make you feel good
7. Put the children first – Make all decisions in the best interests of the children. Recognise the struggle the children may face navigating between 2 households over the Christmas break. Avoid arguments between you and your spouse in front of the children. It will really help the children to enjoy Christmas, seeing their parents getting along. Communicate with your ex about the important issues surrounding Christmas. Who will be buying what presents for the children? When will the children spend time with each of you over the holiday period? Will you be having any family time? Remember to cooperate and compromise. Do it for the children!
8. Forget your differences – Tis the season of goodwill. It is important to put your personal differences with your ex- spouse to one side. Be grown-ups. Take time out from the arguing. Give yourself time and space to use your brain instead of your emotions to make decisions. If you intend to spend some time all together as a family, agree some ground rules and boundaries.
Family breakdown is a difficult time. Be kind to yourself this Christmas and give yourself a break. I wish you a happy and stress free Christmas!
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