How to prepare a smooth Christmas as a single parent

Even though Christmas is at the same time each year and the shops give us months of warning, when life is difficult it can come round surprisingly quickly and leave us unprepared.

If you are a single parent, then you should prepare early to ensure Christmas runs smoothly for your children and you also have time to relax and enjoy the festive season.

Talk to the other parent early

Preparation is key to a good family Christmas. It is important that you know the other parent’s expectations on when and if they are seeing the children over Christmas. Every family does things differently.

When you are co-parenting with an ex partner, or the other parent sees the children at regular intervals, the other parent is going to want to see them at this crucial time. In some families the children will spend half a day with each parent, other families the children will spend the whole day with one parent but see the other on Christmas Eve or Boxing Day.

If you don’t already have it set out in writing what you are doing, then you need to decide early. Talk to a mediator if you are having difficulties and put your decision down in writing so you both stick to it.

Tell the rest of the family

While your extended family may not be interested in whether or not you have the children on a Wednesday afternoon, they may suddenly take it personally if they are away with the other parent at a certain time during the festive season.

Once you know when the children will be with you, you can then inform the rest of the family. That way a grandparent won’t cause a fuss if your children can’t attend the traditional New Year’s Day buffet, or they won’t get to see the children opening their presents Christmas morning.

Tell your children

It is important that your children understand exactly what is going on. They don’t have to know the reasons, but they will need to know where Father Christmas will deliver the presents and where they will be spending the day and with whom. Christmas is a very exciting time for children and they will have formed ideas in their heads about how the day will pan out and any deviation from that can lead them to get overemotional.

Don’t overcompensate

There is no need to overcompensate at Christmas when you are a single parent, although it is tempting. Your children may want the latest expensive toy, but what they will treasure is a fun, relaxing happy time with you. There is no need to get yourself into financial difficulty, instead focus on spending some quality time with the kids.