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First Christmas as separated dad

(28 Posts)
Elrel Sat 21-Nov-20 10:16:28

Children 6 and 10. He wants to make the days he sees them in his home special.
Any and all suggestions welcome!

Septimia Sat 21-Nov-20 10:25:53

Even if he doesn't actually have them on Christmas Day, do all the Christmas things - pressies, tree, decorations, dinner etc.

One of those gingerbread house kits that you stick together with any icing that hasn't already been eaten!

Games if they like them.

Skype or whatever with members of his family.

A walk to see lights if there are any nearby

GrannyGravy13 Sat 21-Nov-20 10:33:57

Let the children decorate their bedroom for Christmas at your sons so it feels like theirs. Have duplicates of some of their favourite toys and games at both homes.

Be relaxed and child led having high expectations can only lead to disappointment.

Chardy Sat 21-Nov-20 10:34:36

Organise who is having children on which days, (who's collecting/dropping off kids, where and at what time) well in advance! And who is feeding them which meals (it's irritating to cook them a lovely meal before they arrive, to find they had chips on the way over).
Good luck

vampirequeen Sat 21-Nov-20 22:44:54

We have Christmas Day on whichever day DH's son comes. He comes Christmas Day or Boxing Day on alternate years. We have present opening and a special meal if it's Christmas Day or a running buffet (graze all day) if it's Boxing Day. We made a point of starting new traditions that we all enjoy. When he was little present opening used to be a rip fest followed by a paper snowstorm when we all collected handfuls of paper and threw it in the air at the same time. We always have a film that we've chosen in advance to watch together. Thank goodness no longer Disney grin, This year we're going to watch the Meg again. The men seem to think it's an adventure film but for me it's a chance to lust over Jason Statham especially when he steps out of the shower grin. Brilliant film. Has something for everyone grin. We also go for a walk (weather permitting). If he's with us Christmas day he usually comes a couple of days prior. We make peppermint cremes on Christmas Eve and go to the cinema in the afternoon (not this year sadly). We used to follow Father Christmas on the NORAD site but he no longer believes so I watch it by myself now. I still believe and sometimes he humours me and asks where Father Christmas is grin

One thing we do before Christmas is ice the Christmas cake. I buy a fruit cake from Morrisons then we marzipan it and ice it over a couple of weekends. We've had some weird designs and the cake figures don't always get put were they would normally but it's fun.

vampirequeen Sat 21-Nov-20 22:46:59

The other thing we used to do when he was young was make Christmas cards for family....even one for their mam which they used to proudly give to her.

Elrel Sat 21-Nov-20 23:35:41

Thank you all, some lovely and thoughtful ideas. Luckily he lives where there are light displays within walking distance.
I think having an agreed plan re timings and meals with his former partner is key.

welbeck Sun 22-Nov-20 03:50:56

let them wear whatever they want, spiderman pyjamas, princess gown with fire brigade helmet, wellington boots, all day inside or out, and not be shoe-horned into some hideous jumper or dopey dress because great aunt ethel made/gave it and they have to be videoed wearing it.
start own traditions, eg the virtual wrapping paper.
this consists of handing out one present only at a time to one person. everyone else watches as the recipient feels the present through an ordinary carrier bag, and tries to guess what it might be. no actual wrapping paper is harmed in this process. recipient may also close their eyes while feeling/guessing.

Septimia Sun 22-Nov-20 09:34:50

Some good advice and ideas on here.

I would say that it's important that the children feel that they have a home with their dad and not just a place that they visit. If there isn't space for their own room(s), then at least cupboards etc for them to keep their belongings in.

It's also important, I feel, that their home with their dad has its own rules and traditions - not aggressively different from their mum's but not a copy either.

My DS has been managing this situation on a 50/50 time basis for several years and DGD has adapted and settled very well.

Classic Sun 22-Nov-20 10:02:49

Whatever he does, he must make sure he isn't trying to give 'the best present' 'the biggest present' as my ex-husband did, it back fired on him in so many ways. Spending time on and concentrating on the children is the most special thing he could do. Another thing that would go down very well is if he helped the children make a card and present for their mum. Mine didn't and I went years without birthday or Christmas presents and cards, whereas my husband had special presents from the children every birthday and Christmas, and I am sure they got a great deal of pleasure getting them ready for daddy.

sweetcakes Sun 22-Nov-20 10:53:20

Some wonderful ideas here well done grans ⛄🎄

pennykins Sun 22-Nov-20 11:01:58

Some excellent advice and I am so glad that he is able to see his children over the Christmas period. I would tell them that they are very lucky as they now have 2 Christmases.
My son is not so fortunate, his ex is making it almost impossible for my son to see his children and when he does, he has to pay between £200-300 per time as she will not let him see them without a professional person there and refuses to let them come to our house where my son is now living.
Hope your son has a lovely Christmas with his children

trisher Sun 22-Nov-20 11:16:13

Lots of lovely suggestions. Can I add a small warning, he should be prepared for questions or worries or even some sadness. They may ask "What's mummy doing?" or "Why isn't mummy here?". He needs to be ready with some easy and reassuring answers and assurances that it is OK to be a bit sad because Christmas is different but they will all have happy times in different ways. They may also want to talk about how Christmas used to be (especially the 10 year old).

Whatdayisit Sun 22-Nov-20 11:18:58

Christmas can be any day these days! Just relax and make the time you do get to spend with the children your special time. Keep it calm and happy.
And like previous posters have said arrange all pickups etc first and do food to fit.
If ex is spiteful or they have the big dinner the kids might just want MacDonalds.
Your Christmas dinner can be made at New Year with the kids it extends the festive period and new traditions can be made.
Everything depends on the age of kids too. Everybody needs to really step back and think outside the box. Grandparents no competing with ex in laws over who can make the children enjoy the best Christmas.
It is going to be different this year most importantly hust enjoy the time together.
I have 4 GCs and 6 parents to juggle - 2 my own DCs. 1 is a right trickster but we just go with the flow and don't let any upset show. Good luck.x

Whatdayisit Sun 22-Nov-20 11:23:20

Sorry to read that Pennykins. In this 21st century children shouldn't be used as pawns.
Yes there is always 2 sides to the story
But it is hell. And in my experience women are still getting away with making fathers jump through hoops.

Sadgrandma Sun 22-Nov-20 11:36:55

Elrel, you might find this organisation is of some help to you if you don't know about it already:

I am sure that whatever you do with your children over Christmas as they will just enjoy being with you and you with them.

GreyKnitter Sun 22-Nov-20 11:43:15

Every situation is different and I’m sure most parents are doing their utmost to ensure that the children have a good time. Unfortunately that’s not always true and def not always the case re time with both parents. My daughter took her husband to court re his behaviour towards her and the children but they still were ordered to have lots of contact with their dad. Last year he had them - male twins aged 8 - and all they got was a couple of free things - Chinese restaurant free calendars and no it’s not a money issue - he still had plenty of alcohol. They told their mum it was their worse Christmas ever and they thought they’d been so bad they didn’t deserve anything. Luckily she had exciting things for them as presents and activities to do and certainly hadn’t spent lots as money is tight for her too. Good luck all separated/divorced parents. As long as you put your children and their needs first all will be well.

Whatdayisit Sun 22-Nov-20 12:08:16

And parents and children are still getting away with being abusive to their children and partners/ex- partners.
I think Christmas highlights or escalates this. Alcohol is fuel on the fire at this time.
This thread is showing that many individual families are going through it in their own way.

cookiemonster66 Sun 22-Nov-20 12:10:26

Don't forget he will need support too, lots of comments about the kids, but Christmas is so hard when you are alone and used to being part of a family unit. The first Xmas day after I split with hubby and he had kids xmas day, I was all alone, sat in a cold bath ALL day sobbing my eyes out as used to being busy mum xmas day doing dinner, presents etc, as it always revolves round the kids, so no kids to me meant no xmas, it was very hard indeed and understand why suicide rate is so high during festive period after that horrendous day! so keep an eye on him too!

Gilmul Sun 22-Nov-20 12:29:14

Having Christmas in a bad relationship is terrible also and kids do pick up on the stresses and animosity wheter it’s visible or not. Once separated each parent can concentrate on being a good Dad or Mum and enjoy the day in a more relaxed way. It will take time but it can be done as long as the children are centre stage . I do agree that adults doing it alone this year need support too from their families as it’s tough. Communication no matter how difficult is key these first few occasions. It will get easier I promise you . Xx

icanhandthemback Sun 22-Nov-20 12:35:20

My daughter and her husband are in the process of separating but lockdown has meant that he is unable to move out until the New Year. Before Lock Down though, he and my daughter were planning on agreeing what "they" would buy for Christmas and at least to do present opening together for the first year so it would be less of a jolt for the children. If there is sufficient goodwill between the parents to put the children first, this can be a very good way forward until everybody gets used to the break. Frankly, for two parents who are a nightmare together, you could have knocked me over with a feather but my daughter pointed out how we had been very inclusive to my husband's ex-wife when his kids were little and it had stuck with her. Her own father just disappeared off the scene.
If that isn't possible, I would have thought that a discussion between parents about the presents each would buy would be a good starting point along with a conversation with the children about what they would like to do on Christmas Day. Often the excitement is as much about the planning as the actual day.

Unigran4 Sun 22-Nov-20 13:20:07

My husband left me when our DC were 3 and 5 years old. He always stepped aside for the important days (Christmas and birthdays) but would ask to have them at a date close by. He is a great theatre goer so often took them to a panto, but as they grew older they preferred to put on their own shows at his house, making props, and costumes out of kitchen items and his clothes. He would sit down with them to write the script and invite in a couple of long-suffering neighbours as the audience (suitably plied with drink and nibbles).

I am not suggesting this should be copied. I just use it as an illustration of my ex being totally involved with the DC all day, giving his undivided attention and leaving them with happy memories they still recall today in their fifties.

Nicegranny Sun 22-Nov-20 13:39:26


Whatever he does, he must make sure he isn't trying to give 'the best present' 'the biggest present' as my ex-husband did, it back fired on him in so many ways. Spending time on and concentrating on the children is the most special thing he could do. Another thing that would go down very well is if he helped the children make a card and present for their mum. Mine didn't and I went years without birthday or Christmas presents and cards, whereas my husband had special presents from the children every birthday and Christmas, and I am sure they got a great deal of pleasure getting them ready for daddy.

You did it for your children not their father and it’s the nicest thing to do for them to hide all the nasties from divorce. Showing them how to be kind and giving is the lesson learned and not to be selfish.

PollyDolly Sun 22-Nov-20 16:09:05

Some great advice already and it's important to remember that it's not a competition as to who gave the children the best Christmas ! They're human beings not pawns in a battle of wills and oneupmanship.

Can I suggest that Dad asks the children what they would like to do?

Great idea to have a pre-planned collection and drop off times too as well as specific days for having the children.

I hope Dad and his children have a fabulous time together making their own memories but most of all the children should know that they're are loved.

NanaPlenty Sun 22-Nov-20 16:19:37

Kids will love the joy of a second Christmas Day - just make it another loving home - it will all come good in the fullness of time .