The amicable guide to co-parenting at Christmas (2024)

Originally published on 28th September 2018 at 10:20 AM
Reading time: 3 mins
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Is this your first-time co-parenting at Christmas as a separated parent? Not sure what to expect or how to handle your new family set-up?

This blog offers pragmatic advice and essential tips to help you keep your ‘co-parenting Christmas’ merry.

1. Get organised

Plan ahead and don’t leave things to the last minute. Many separated couples use a parenting plan to make arrangements and avoid any stress, sometimes a year in advance. The advantage this gives is that it takes the sting out of negotiating and you can do it at a time when you’re on good terms. If you haven’t got a parenting plan, then be sure to agree to things early with plenty of time for everyone’s views to be heard and time to get used to the arrangements. Alternatively, you can download our free Parenting Plan to help you with co-parenting at Christmas by clicking the button below:

2. Traditions

Christmas and new year are often times of contemplation and can bring feelings of grief and ‘how things used to be’. The end of old traditions can be hard to get used to. This is your time to be creative and invent new traditions. This can really help take the pressure off when you’re co-parenting at Christmas. Involve your kids in planning the day and focus on embracing change. Your energy and adaptability will filter down to your kids.

3. Who has the kids at Christmas?

If your children are old enough to tell you how they want to spend their day, then account for this, even if it feels unfair to you. Listen to what the kids want and try to accommodate their needs and wants. If your kids are too little, then consider splitting the time each co-parent gets with them over the Christmas period. However, avoid too much to-ing and fro-ing as this will cause everyone stress, especially if you live far apart.

4. Be realistic

Co-parents tend to be very sensitive about Christmas as it’s a special day for their children and want to do the right thing. Pressure from your kids to spend the day as a family can be huge, and if you feel this is achievable then, by all means, do it. For many parents though, this just isn’t a good idea. Tension on Christmas day is just not good, especially for the kids. So be realistic. If spending the day, or even a short time together will cause tension, then don’t go there. Your kids will manage more easily seeing you separately, rather than seeing you angry or upset with each other.

5. Co-parenting at Christmas without the kids?

If you aren’t going to be with your children this year, make your own plans, don’t sit at home. Embrace the day and be inventive – make this Christmas your own. Spend the day with friends and/or family or indulge in some ‘me time’. Many families have multiple Christmas Days. So, if that’s what works for you and your kids then make a plan and set a date to have your own Christmas Day together.

The key to an amicable Christmas is to remember that this time of year should be about your kids and forming safe, loving environments for them. If you want any ideas about planning your Christmas as a co-parent, join amicable’s online community for people going through divorce and separation.


What do split parents do at Christmas?

There is no traditional way of doing Christmas when parenting apart. However, if you’re co-parenting at Christmas, you can decide between yourselves on all of the necessary arrangements like which days each of you are having the children,

How do split families do Christmas?

Families that follow a different model to the traditional nuclear family, including co-parenting families, parallel parenting families and blended families can choose to do Christmas in multiple ways. Families come in all shapes and sizes, and some parents manage to do Christmas together despite a separation, and some do not.

How do you split Christmas between parents?

If you’re co-parenting at Christmas and you’re unsure of what needs doing and how to figure out who is having the children on Christmas Day, you can read the blog above where we share our tops tips for co-parents during the festive season.

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Co-parenting advice

Speak to an amicable Coach for help transitioning from parents to co-parents.

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