With all that this year has thrown at us and the uncertainty of what’s still to come, Christmas is something of an unknown quantity for many in 2020. Will we be able to get together with family members? What tier will be in? Will there be another lockdown? And what does next year have in store?!
For separated parents, things may feel even more complicated as they negotiate the rules around children’s arrangements along with Covid restrictions (you can read the latest updates on these rules here). So, as we do every year, we thought we’d put together some guidelines and advice on how to minimise stress during the holiday season for those coping with co-parenting post-divorce – including all the added complexities of 2020!
Focus on what you CAN control (but try to be flexible)
So much of this year has felt out of our hands, and with the knowledge that lockdown rules may still change day by day, all we can do is take things as they come and pin down the stuff we do have control over. Try to get a basic (but flexible) plan in place regarding your work hours, holiday hours, and how you and your ex plan on dividing up childcare over the Christmas period. Flexibility is the key here, but if you can establish a few ‘definites’ (eg: who the children will be with on Christmas day) it will help you all feel a little bit more in control.
Know your rights as a co-parent and stay safe!
Fairly early into lockdown the Government stated that separated parents would still be able to move children between homes, even during lockdown restrictions. However, there are still instances where you might disagree over children’s arrangements when it comes to staying safe and following Coronavirus guidelines, so it’s important to know where you stand and how to deal with disagreements with your co-parent. Try to keep communicating and seek advice from your solicitor if you need it, but above all make sure decisions are made with your children’s wellbeing – and the safety of all involved – in mind.
Make new traditions (and lower your expectations!)
The events of this year have been new to everyone, and we’ve all had to adapt to huge changes to our living arrangements, work situations, social lives, and relationships. And however much we’ve hoped things might be ‘back to normal’ by Christmas, they’re obviously not going to be – so we all need to find new ways to celebrate and make the most of some well-deserved time off.
If you’re unable to see extended family, arrange some group Zoom calls or online games. If you’re splitting Christmas between you and your ex, make the most of your child-free time and treat yourself to some proper rest and relaxation. Embrace a low-key Christmas and lower your expectations. It can still be a magical time for your kids. But perhaps it would do us all some good to opt for a less frantic festive season this year…
Ask for help if you need it
We may not be able to hug all our friends and family, but we can still be there for one another. Christmas can be such a stressful time, trying to make everything perfect and setting unrealistic expectations for ourselves, but if 2020 has shown us anything it’s that family and community are the most important thing. So look after yourself, and one another, and ask for help if you’re struggling. There’s always support to be found, whether it’s from friends, family, your GP, therapist or solicitor.
At Frances Lindsay & Co we are still working remotely, offering FaceTime and Zoom appointments to those who need them, and providing all our usual services to those going through separation. Don’t try to soldier on alone! Let us (and others) take some of the weight off your shoulders so you can enjoy your Christmas.
Our child-centred family law services are here to help separating parents find a way forward – through Christmas and beyond! – and learn to co-parent as amicably and cooperatively as possible, with your children’s wellbeing at the heart of every decision. For more advice, or to speak to a friendly, down-to-earth solicitor about your circumstances, please get in touch at www.franceslindsay.co.uk.
And above all, stay safe and have a wonderful Christmas!