I have always felt that the spirit of Christmas is magnified with children. Sometimes I feel that there is nothing worse than being a single parent without your kids at Christmas. However, this is only a perception. The way that we look at a situation can make all of the difference.
Relationship and divorce expert and coach, Rachael Scharrer from DivorceAnswered.com.au, shares her recommendations for surviving the festive season as a parent without your kids.
Firstly, make a plan for the children. What are the change-over times? Where will Santa be? When will you give the kids their gifts?
Remember to be positive about the child spending time with their other parent and that family. The child is half of the other parent so you don’t want them to feel bad about themselves or guilty about not spending the time with you. This is an iIf the kids wake without you on Christmas morning or if you are without them for the evening, agree with the other parent a time to face time or call them to wish them well and share their joy.
The next important step is for you to have a plan for yourself this day. Do you have family that you can have lunch or dinner with? Could they shift the time of their family gathering to celebrate when you have the children? Do you have a friend that can take in a Christmas ‘orphan’? Some parents may wish to take advantage of the additional penalty pay by working on Christmas Day.
If you are spending time with your family and without the children, consider creating a photo book of recent the children’s recent achievements and images of the children. It will help you and your family to feel closer to the children by being able to see them (albeit not physically).
If your family and friends ask “why are you single?” Or “are you dating someone?” Try to have some witty or pre-planned responses that answer the question, satisfies their curiosity but redirects their attention. Perhaps you could talk about not wanting to prioritise a partner because you are wanting to study or retrain or pursue a passion. Then talk about the work, study or passion. Turn the potentially negative answer into a positive for you!!
Equally, if you have a stretch of time over the festive season, you might like to consider taking yourself in an overseas trip. Could you meet a friend overseas? Perhaps you could go somewhere that interests you and go to a destination that may not be ideal for taking the children. Try Booking through an organised tour company to increase the likelihood of meeting fellow single or mature travellers. There are also fellow single parents who may join you if you put the call out to relevant social media groups.
Remember that your family will want to see the children and celebrate all together. Some families celebrate Christmas on the eve (24th), others a week or two earlier knowing that everyone may not be all together on Christmas Day and some celebrate on boxing day.
Whatever your Christmas plans may be, it is important to plan ahead and choose your attitude. If you choose to wallow in self-pity, others around you will also pick up on the negative vibes. Equally if you can make the most of your time without your children, while missing them, then you can focus on being present and connecting with your loved ones who are with you.
While you would like to be with your children each year and every festive season, finding acceptance with the visitation schedule and appreciating that the children need to have time with their other family is just as important as the time that they have with you and your family. What is in the best interests of the child is the priority …. not just at Christmas but every day of the year.
Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy, giving and gratitude. Even if your children are not with you on Christmas Day, you can still give thanks to your neighbours, friends and loved ones in a way that is authentic to you. Finding a way to make the festive season a positive experience for you and your children is really important for your overall wellbeing.