Spending Christmas with Your Ex.

I’ve said it before, but divorced parenting is hard.

There’s no getting round the fact that when a relationship ends as badly as ours did, one of the few perks should be getting to NEVER see that person again as long as you live. But we’re parents, which means we’re stuck with each other.

Fortunately, we do both agree that Flea has a right to a close relationship with us both, so we make a concerted effort to get along, and be friendly, and sometimes both spend time with Flea together – because fractured as it might be, we’re still a family.

It’s an arrangement that’s not without its difficult moments.

But my ex sustains himself with the warm fuzzy feeling of knowing I once accidentally told Flea her hamster was dead (it wasn’t), while I will always have the memory of him dangling upside down, on a rope, halfway up a tree.

It gets easier over time, of course, to remember that your ex is probably good company in some ways – after all you did spend a good chunk of time with him in the dim and distant past.

As for the rest, it can be mostly overlooked with a touch of humour and a sense of perspective. I don’t have to live with my ex, so his flaws and quirks are really someone else’s problem these days. As are mine, for him (I’m saying that to sound fair, but it’s worth noting that I’m basically perfect).

At Christmas, arrangements can be especially fraught, because of course we both want to spend time with Flea, and for her to have the opportunity to see her extended family, too. We spend time with my parents, and my ex often takes her to see his brothers, and her cousins.

When you’re divorced, it’s hard not to come at Christmas with the notion you’ve already failed for not matching up to that TV idea of what Christmas should be – there’s never an ex-husband tipping up, or a second wife in those Asda and Tesco ads, is there?

So I tend to think a divorced Christmas should make life as easy as possible for all involved.

What works for us is

  • Agreeing key dates in advance for special outings, eg to see Father Christmas or a pantomime
  • Telling each other what we plan to buy as gifts, and splitting the cost of major purchases
  • Encouraging Flea to decorate trees at both our homes, so they feel equally ‘special’ and fun at Christmas
  • Sharing photos of events like present opening and nativity plays so even if something happens on a day Flea’s with me, her Dad doesn’t completely miss out
  • Spending some of Christmas Day together – my ex might stay in the guest room Christmas Eve and spend the morning with us before we head off to see family, or we might stay with family, meaning my ex comes over later in the afternoon, after we get home

I know there are people who will think our relationship is odd but really, what’s the alternative?

A child who gets to open their presents in two different homes, with a frosty handover on the doorstep in between? Or alternating Christmas at different homes, meaning we each miss out on 50% of those Christmas mornings while Flea is young? I can’t think of anything I’d want to do less.

This year’s going to be especially challenging because my Mum, upon hearing that the ex was home alone this Christmas, has invited him to spend the day and have dinner with our family. My ex is a walking encyclopaedia and my Mum makes me look not-at-all-competitive, so the annual family Scrabble match is going to get interesting, I fear.

Still, with the right amount of festive spirit (by which I mean Baileys, obviously) I’m hopeful we’ll all get through it without actual bloodshed.

Although I will just say – I visited my parents today and my Mum has sneaked out this week and bought THIS. Christmas is gonna get ugly at the Whittles this year.

 

About 

Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the HIBS100, Foodies100 and Tots100 - an online community of more than 15,000 UK bloggers. She is also a busy single Mum to Flea, the world's coolest eight year old.

Get the latest posts direct to your inbox

20 Comments

  1. says

    I hope that if (hopefully not!) OH we’re to split up we would behave in the exact same way as you guys, and not like my friend who rings her ex up smashed, screams down the phone arguing about dates etc and cops off with the first guy in the bar. Nice. Have a fantastic Christmas!!
    Notmyyearoff recently posted..Project 52 – Week 51 / Silent SundayMy Profile

    • says

      Cripes. I think *crossed fingers* I’ve never called my exes when drunk – maybe because I don’t remember where I left the phone!

  2. says

    I’m glad you have such a civilised relationship with your ex. I don’t, so what works for us is this:
    – I organise everything;
    – I buy the girls’ presents;
    – I go to all the Christmas school stuff;
    – my ex’s contribution is to complain about how he has very little money for their presents (he earns twice as much as me) and to see them for a couple of hours on Boxing Day, at his parents’ house.

    • says

      Excellent point. It helps that my ex is a way better father than he was husband, and I’m a better Mum than I was a wife. There’s no way to be civilised and grown-up if you’re the only one doing it, I know.

  3. says

    Thanks for hooking up – I think you’ll have the *perfect* divorced Christmas. At least you are both accepting that Flea is the priority, most people I know are constantly doing battle
    Super Amazing Mum recently posted..PAPSMy Profile

    • says

      Don’t get me wrong, we certainly have the odd spat but you have to work through it and with big things like Christmas we manage to get along okay.

    • says

      That was one of the horrors – my own parents divorced and had little contact and while it was nice for there not to be fighting or anyone slating anyone else, it was tricky at Christmas, I remember.

  4. TheBoyandMe says

    I admire the work you put into Flea’s relationship with both of you and the attitude that she will be developing towards divorce and relationships. Not many divorced couples think of each other so much and it shows in how well-balanced Flea always seems to be.

    Merry Christmas.

  5. says

    Sally I too have an ‘odd’ relationship with my ex and it’s nice to read that other people have opted for this unconventional way of dealing with separation and special occasions too. My ex and I spend special times in the children’s lives together. Generally he comes to our house and camps out in the living room. This Christmas he arrived on the 22nd and will probably stay until new year. We’ve always felt that we’ve wanted the kiddies to have a sense of family and this works for us. I think we’ve got to the stage now where we even enjoy each other’s company, some of the time at least! I should blog about it I guess…maybe next year!
    Emma Smith recently posted..No Time To Shave, I Almost Killed The Cat And Grandma’s BirthdayMy Profile

    • says

      I think it’s great – I find it hard having my ex in my ‘space’ for more than a couple of days, I must admit, but for the most part I think the children gain from exes who manage to still get along. You should definitely blog about it, I’d love to know if more people try to approach things the way we do.

  6. says

    Flea is so lucky to have you both, I hope you know that. This Christmas I’ve seen one of my friends upset because she couldn’t spend Christmas morning with her daughter and another trying to outdo her ex’s presents to her daughter!
    Cass@frugalfamily recently posted..The year ahead….My Profile