• Emily Pringle

Helping your kids to spend time with both of their parents over the Christmas period

Let's face it, Christmas is one of the hardest times of the year after you've separated/divorced...not least of all when you have children together. The emotions that you are going through with regard to your ex and your situation (both consciously or subconsciously) will undoubtedly impact your thoughts and decisions when it comes to agreeing where your children will be and when.

Below are some of my top tips for making things as stress free for you as a parent in making the decisions that will help your children to have a Christmas with both of their parents:

  • Speak to each other and agree the plans BEFORE telling your children - they don’t want to be in the middle of any discussion

  • Be prepared to compromise

  • Accept that you can't have your kids for the whole festive period as you did when you were together as a family...things are very different now and they have 2 homes to spend time in

  • Think of what is truly best for your children - there are very few scenarios where it is right for a child not to spend any time with one of their parents over the Christmas period (addictions, abuse etc are examples of where it may be inappropriate)

  • Show a united front to your children - align with each-other, and THEN tell the children where they will be and when - showing this on a calendar can be really helpful for a child

  • Once you have agreed the split of time, talk to your children about how they’d like to spend the time with you and make plans together

  • Don’t try to make things “better” at yours than at their other parent’s house

  • Think about what is possible logistically…if you are local to each other then maybe you can allow your children time with both their parents on the actual day?

  • Try and be considerate to the wider family that may be visiting either parent, and try to accommodate the children spending time with both parties

  • Use mediation rather than argue…it’s in your children’s best interests to come to an agreement that works for everyone

  • Think of the longer term...Christmas happens each year and a plan that can be alternated works really well....if you don't get the your ideal this Christmas, then think about how you swap for next


  • You are the adults

  • A child will more often than not say what they think that the parent they are with wants to hear…so don’t be surprised if they tell you they want to be with you for the whole period…it doesn’t necessarily mean that this is what they really want….they may not even know (see above point)

  • It doesn’t need to be perfect, your child/children just want you to be present for them

  • It’s not a competition

  • Children deserve to feel free to love spending time with both of their parents

  • There is no right or wrong

  • You can’t please everyone…make it clear to your family that things will be different to previous years

  • Be kind to yourself, we're all human, and your kids will be happy if their parents are happy

Examples - not a finite list (timings obviously for example too)

- Christmas Eve 3pm (or thereabouts) to Mum/Dad - Boxing Day 3pm (or thereabouts) to Dad/Mum

- Christmas Eve 3pm (or thereabouts) to Mum/Dad - Christmas Day 3pm (or thereabouts) to Dad/Mum

- School break up to Mum/Dad - Christmas Day midday to Dad/Mum - New Years Eve midday to Mum/Dad

- Spending a few hours all together (if amicable and friendly) on Christmas morning to do stocking/presents

- Alternate Christmas and New Year with your ex each year…this gives you as parents time to celebrate with and without your children on either occasion.

*Trying to keep as much of your normal schedule as possible works well for children as there is less uncertainty.

Good luck...and don't can always change it next year if it doesn't work.

If I can help then please give me a call on 07814009408, or email