Co-Parenting Christmas

merry christmas decoration on a tree

I may have mentioned this before on here about how I manage co-parenting with Olivia’s dad. I very rarely discuss my life as a single parent. Having been living this way for over 7 years now to me it is just life. The way it is. It’s not good or bad. It’s my life. Yes it gets hard and frustrating and at times it can be ridiculously lonely. But we get up. Olivia goes to school life goes on.

There has always been a healthy co-parenting relationship between myself and Olivia’s dad. We have always got on (except for around a year when he met someone who wasn’t a fan of our relationship. Things broke down and we have both worked really hard to regain that trust and try to get back to how it was). A nice good happy healthy relationship. So healthy in fact I went for a coffee with him and his mum recently when we were waiting to watch Olivia in her Romeo and Juliet debut.

We discussed Christmas presents, Olivia’s behaviour. I laughed at him with his mum. I even gave the man my old Christmas tree and decorations! They are a big part of Olivia’s life and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Then the conversation hit a sore point. Something I never thought would happen is now going to go ahead and we discussed it. The three of us.

As part of our self arranged days to have Olivia we also try to share holidays as fair as possible (he is paying for Olivia to go away with us all next year and renewing her passport too! I know I am very lucky). Christmas has for the past few years anyway, always been Christmas eve with his mum, dad, brother. Wake up Christmas morning with me and then either dinner with me and dads in the evening overnight to boxing day with a morning visit or dinner with dad and evening with me and boxing day too. New Year is usually me unless he doesn’t have plans.

The rule was this would stand until she was old enough to make up her own mind. This year is that year. Honestly? I never thought she would vary from this routine. But she asked, well rather told me this year would be different. She would wake up with her dad on Christmas day. I just looked at her. I felt like I had been hit by a truck, never in a million years did I expect this, not this soon anyway. Still sat here writing this I don’t think I’ve fully accepted it. The reality of having a childless Christmas morning is daunting and quite frankly terrifying. I’m not sure I’m ready for this.

But I can’t back down can I? I can’t go back on my word, after all I do believe he does deserve this time with her but I’m selfish and no matter how great our relationship is this is new territory for both of us. Him for making sure she has a great Christmas regardless of where she wakes up and me, well I know I’ll be fine. I’ve made plans to stay with one of my sisters and her 2 daughters. However it’s not quite the same is it? Took me by complete surprise and I’m not ashamed to say I’m not happy about it. What parent would be but she has made her choice and I accept it.

But as hard as it will be for me (ever the drama queen I know!) I won’t be the first and I won’t be the last. Below are some quotes from other bloggers on their experiences on not having their children at home to wake up with on Christmas morning.

Bloggers Co-Parenting Christmas.

Amy from Amy Being Mum


The first Xmas I didn’t have my daughter (she was at her dads) I was really upset in the run up and knew I had to keep busy! My family all had plans so I decided I would volunteer at a homeless shelter for Xmas day serving Xmas lunch!! I’m not joking I applied to 5 and they all said thanks but no thanks they had enough volunteers!! I ended up going to a friends but I won’t lie it’s tough being without your kids on Xmas day.

Kate from Counting to Ten.


Last year I had my daughter (who is now 5) Christmas Eve and Christmas morning which are the best bits, this year I will get her for a few hours in the middle of the day. I feel there will be a part of me missing and it won’t be the same waking up and seeing her stocking just waiting for her. I’ll have my baby so won’t get to sleep late or enjoy a leisurely breakfast, but I feel some of the magic will be missing.

Mandy from Mandy Charlton – Photographer, Writer, Blogger.



This year my older daughter (aged 14) who lives with dad will be coming over on Christmas morning. My son and younger daughter (ages 20 and 13) will wake up with me. It is far from ordinary but then I’ve hated every second since my older daughter moved to dads (she went because it meant she got her own bedroom). I guess I just have to try and appreciate the fact that I’ll actually have all of my kids together for Christmas lunch and know it’s just one day.

Louise from My Three and Me.


From the other side, this is our first Christmas with my Stepson – he lives in Ireland with his mum (she moved there when he was 3). We have not been able to see him over Christmas before now (we’ve been together 11 years in February). His brothers can’t wait to spend Christmas together. It is going to be so lovely for us after all this time to have a Christmas altogether.

Jayne from Kids Kicks and Cloth.


I’ve done it every other year for the last 9 years and it ruins Xmas for me. I can’t get excited, I’m miserable and the last year we did it my mum and dad were away too. So last year I asked her what she wanted to do and she decided to stay with us. It’s just not the same. Christmas if you’re not religious like me is about family and when your child isn’t there it’s pretty bleak. This year she is refusing to stay over Xmas eve, but even so she will be gone most of the day and my partner is rostered to work.

Danielle from Blog by Baby.


I done this when my eldest two were younger and my other two weren’t born. Me and their dad had alternate Christmas days. I would always make Christmas on a different day for us to enjoy as if it was Christmas day. I tried to keep myself busy Christmas day, but as a single parent I didn’t want to invade other people’s happy family Christmas (despite invites to join some). But looking back I should have gotten out and been sociable.

I am pretty sure my nieces will keep me occupied this Christmas day morning and I’m hoping the youngest doesn’t stick to her threat of making me sleep in the garden. Only time will tell how I feel and cope when it actually arrives. Olivia is so excited to be waking up with her dad I feel like the grinch for not being happy for her. It’s always going to be a tough one. Christmas without your kids especially the first time but reading other peoples experiences has made me feel no quite so alone.

Do you share custody of your kids over the holidays? What do you do to keep yourself busy when you don’t have them around on Christmas morning? I would love to hear your tips, stories or your thoughts on anything discussed in this post.

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  1. Such a difficult situation but I hope it wasn’t too hard and you had a great time at your sisters and you didn’t have to sleep in the garden x #KCACOLS

  2. I have no experience of this but I can imagine how difficult it must be. I hope it wasn’t as bad as you were expecting and you managed to have a nice time with your sister xx #kcacols

  3. Well done on this great achievement
    Never been in this situation but it really saddens me when children are used as “pawns” -so important to do as you do as this paves the way for children yo learn as they grow and develop a sense of how to conduct themselves well done

  4. It is a lovely post, and I hope your Christmas wasn’t as bad as you feared. Thanks for sharing with #PoCoLo and wishing you a fab 2017 xx

  5. Argh this sounds horrible! I hope you had fun with family at your sister’s. Great idea including the quotes. Interesting to have other points of view on a subject. #KCACOLS

  6. Loved your post. I can’t imagine how tough it must be to get the right balance especially now she’s old enough to be a part of that decision making process. I hope Christmas goes well for you guys even if it will be different! #kcacols

  7. You’re lucky that you have such a good relationship with your ex and that’s good for Olivia too, but it must be very hard not to be with your child for Christmas. Have fun with your nieces, though, and hopefully they’ll take your mind off it. #KCACOLS

  8. It’s so hard to strike the right balance! My OH has a daughter from previous and we’ve accepted that she spends Christmas Day with her mum, but it won’t. E long before she can make her own choice. As much as I’d love her to spend the day with us and her siblings, I realise when that day comes how hard it will be for her mum. Never an easy outcome! #KCACOLS

  9. You are handling this so well, I can’t imagine how hard it must be. I guess it does give you an insight though, as one of your friend here said, into how other people who are alone spend Christmas (like volunteering at a Homeless shelter – if they let you!). It’s great that you can spend it with other family members though, and I’m sure your daughter will admire you for your maturity and understanding in giving her independence and choice. Have a great time! #KCACOLS

  10. Great post and quite emotional too, I wasnt expecting it to read like it did. You have such a good way with words and this was something that touched me. Single parenting has lots of rollercoaster moments, a bit like relationships.

  11. I think it’s amazing that you’ve managed to keep such a good relationship with your daughter’s father. And while it must be so hard, I think it’s great that you’ve asked her what she wants to do this year, and are going along with her choices. I don’t have any advice to offer unfortunately, other than to try and keep in mind that it is just one day, and it does sound like you’ll be keep at least partly occupied by your nieces. x #KCACOLS

  12. Ok, first of all, you should be REALLY proud of yourself for being mature for how you are handling this with your daughter. Never underestimate the importance of showing a united front with her dad.

    She is absolutely not rejecting you in any form. It’s awesome that she’s becoming independent and trying new things…one of which is waking up with her dad on Christmas.

    I am my husband’s second wife (and LAST!), and am so grateful for the kindness shown to me by my stepson’s mom and her family. It has made a tremendous difference in the life of my stepson that everyone gets along and treats one another with respect.

    Hats off to you!

  13. This must be very difficult indeed – and such a shock to you too. I hope you can still enjoy your day. #KCACOLS

  14. Can’t even begin to imagine how hard this must be for and other single parents but you have handled the situation brilliantly. I love that you have respected her wishes and for that she will love you even more! You’ll be surrounded by family and I will be thinking of you too xxx #KCACOLS

  15. Can’t even begin to imagine how hard this must be for and other single parents but you have handled the situation brilliantly. I love that you have respected her wishes and for that she will love you even more! You’ll be surrounded with family and I will be thinking of you too xxx #KCACOLS

  16. I just can’t imagine co-parenting, it must be hard. My mum was a single parent but my dad held no interest so she didn’t haver any co-parenting to stress about 🙂 I hope you manage to work something out. #KCACOLS

  17. My two older siblings have kids but aren’t with their partner. I remember the first year my sister was childless at Christmas and you could see there was something missing on her day. But she too has a brilliant co-parenting relationship and she even gave him advice for his new girlfriend!
    Adjusting is hard but unfortunately it is something that has to be swallowed (it’s my first year not seeing my family at Christmas due to them not willing to stop doing things I don’t agree with around Ben)
    So although different relationships, my parents are choosing to not see their daughter and grandchild at Christmas will be hard. I’m here if you want to talk or vent xx #KCACOLS

  18. What an honest post. I really feel for you and cant imagine having to share my boy at Christmas. it sounds like on the whole you have a great relationship with Olivias Dad, and no, you cant back out of it now. I’m pleased you will at least be with your sister and yes it wont be the same but you have many many more days and wake ups that can be special. Big hugs to you xx

  19. I can’t imagine how hard this must be! You sound like you have a great relationship with both your ex and daughter but I suppose the situation will always mean compromise sometimes. I hope it all works out and you have a great Christmas xx#KCACOLS

  20. Co-parenting is so difficult at times like this, we have been doing it for seven years now but thankfully I haven’t had to miss out on Christmas morning with my son. He stay at ours until after lunch and then goes to his dads for another Christmas dinner. For him, it’s great (two lots of presents!), but for us, I feel that we miss out on half of every special occasion! You’re an amazing Mum for allowing her to make her own mind up on this, I hope that she chooses to wake up at yours next year. #KCACOLS

  21. I am a single mum. I spent last Christmas (my first ever as a single mum) without my little boy. This year, he is with me for Christmas Day. I suspect we will alternate each year, although relations with his dad a tempestuous so I don’t know what will happen.

    Last year was hard, but it was okay. I have a fantastic family and we all made our Christmas Day the 26 December. You can’t go back on your word with your daughter, but you can celebrate xmas on a different day so that the both of you have your own special xmas day when she wakes up with you. This is how I plan to manage things over the next few years. Xmas day can be any date. It doesn’t need to be the 25th. Good luck and chin up. You’ll be fine. Loads of love Pen xx #KCACOLS

  22. Have you seen my blog post on co-parenting? I am in the same position more or less this year and it’s really tricky. I have just said yes my boy can go to his Dad’s because for me, it’s about what makes him happy. I will certainly raise a glass to you on Christmas day though because I know how rubbish it feels x #KCACOLS

  23. Oh bless ❤️ Thinking of you, it can’t be easy. Good on your for letting your daughter make the decision tho. Enjoy your special time together when it comes. Merry Christmas xxx #KCACOLS

  24. It sounds like you’ve got the right idea, I think I’d have to stay busy too. I’m not sure I’d cope very well with it.
    Thanks for linking to #pocolo

  25. Co parenting is very hard at times. My oldest is 12 and lives with his dad – so we are the house he spends less time at. We have him in holidays (the longer ones) and every other Xmas. This year it is our turn to have him at Xmas – last year he spent it with his dad’s family.
    It is hard…. but it is how we do it and therefore it doesn’t gain anything to think too much about it. When he doesn’t spend Xmas here we get him just after Xmas and he spends New Years in stead.


  26. That must be so difficult for you, but I suppose once your child has their own choice you have to go with it and be glad you will see her on Christmas Day. I hope the morning passes quickly for you! #KCACOLS

  27. I can imagine why that would be a shock and very painful to not have her there on Christmas morning. I’m so sorry you have to go through that! But you are being so good about it and I hope she will appreciate how you are putting her needs first. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas in the end. xx #kcacols

  28. Oh what a tough one! I guess at least you know that as its her decision she’ll be happy. Christmas day will be tough but hopefully you’ll get to do lots of lovely things in the run up and make the festivities go on that litle bit longer x #KCACOLS

  29. This must be incredibly hard but you are lucky that you at least have a good relationship with your ex for your daughters sake, I’ve seen things get ugly for some people and it’s always the kids who suffer. My oldest sister moved to Canada with her mum when she was 13 and it broke my fathers heart. My husband is in the Merchant Navy and works away for 10-12 weeks at a time meaning he very often misses Christmas and birthdays (he’s away this year) and he hates it. He prefers to not even celebrate Christmas at all when he’s away and just treat it like any other day. Although not the same it’s great that you will at least get to spend it with family x

  30. It’s natural for it to be hard for you, but what matters is that you are respecting her wishes and modeling an incredibly healthy relationship with her dad. You are doing a fantastic job and setting a wonderful example. xx #kcacols

  31. I can’t say I have any tips or anything I’m afraid but you just have to know your daughter will be enjoying her time away, as hard as it will be for you. #KCACOLS

  32. As someone who grew up with separated parents, I never thought about the other parent who i didn’t spend Christmas Eve/Day morning with, until now. I can imagine how heartbreaking it must be to not have your kids there on Xmas day and I hope you manage to have a good time with your sister and nieces. I’m currently unsure what will happen in 2017 regard to my marriage and this could be a reality in future years. #KCACOLS

  33. This sounds really tricky and I can imagine it will be really hard for you. I’m sure Olivia will find it a bit weird on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day though. She’ll love being with her Dad but I’m pretty confident she’ll be missing her Ma. Hopefully you can video chat or something. Have a great time with your sister xx #KCACOLS

  34. It’s difficult isnt it? It has taken many years for myself and my eldest’s dad to work on a healthy co-parenting relationship. He always wakes up here, at home. And then we alternate christmas dinner and christmas night. It works, and thats the most important thing, that it works for the child and that both parents get to spend time with the child. Hope you all have a lovely Christmas! #kcacols

  35. It sounds like a tricky situation. You and her dad sound very grown up and wise on how to handle it though. You’ve got some lovely friends, make sure you get the support you need from them as well at this time of year.
    Sarah #KCACOLS

  36. It sounds like a tricky situation. You and her dad sound very grown up and wise on how to handle it though. You’ve got some lovely friends, make sure you get the support you need from them as well at this time of year.
    Sarah #KCACOLS

  37. Hats off to you both for being so mature about your daughter’s interests. Must be hard but let them fly, when you do, they’ll always come back. I don’t really celebrate Christmas but know how much weight is attached for those like you. #KCACOLS

  38. This is a really interesting post Tracey. I have not faced the situation myself but you describe it so well and It’s good to see how other bloggers feel too. I so hope that you don’t end up sleeping in the garden and that you have a nice day! #KCACOLS

  39. This must be so hard for you especially in the run up to Christmas. I hope that the thought of it is worse than the event. I’m sure you’ll both be fine and have a lovely Christmas. Claire x #KCACOLS

  40. I can’t imagine how difficult that would be…growing up I always spent christmas eve with my father and came home that night to wake up and spend christmas day with mama…I never had a very close relationship with my dad (ahem….evil step mom issues) so it was never a problem for me to come home. The only thing i think you can hold on is to be happy that she so comfortable with and loving of both of you. This isn’t about her choosing him over you, it’s simply about her wanting to try something different with two people she truly adores. #KCACOLS

  41. My brother is divorced and says that all children of divorced parents always pretend to be hungry (so they don’t let the other parent down) never thought of that before.
    Lovely your girl knows her mind and has good relationship with ye ex. Must be so tough though. Take care. Jo #KCACOLS

  42. This is such a great post. I have no experience of this either as a parent or as a child, but can imagine it must be very difficult – so thankyou for sharing. You sound like you’re handling it very well, and that you and her father are doing everything you can to put her first. I hope you have a great Christmas #KCACOLS

  43. Not ever walking in these shoes I can barely relate…but I can commend you both for putting your daughter first. It can not be easy.


  44. That must be so difficult for you. We don’t celebrate Christmas and my husband and I are together but I imagine it would be so hard to stay strong and let your daughter go forward with her decision even if you don’t like it. Just by reading this post I feel as though you must be a fantastic mother and your daughter is super lucky to have you! I hope you’re able to enjoy the holiday season. All the best! #KCACOLS

  45. As hard as this is, pat yourself on the back on what an exceptions job you and her father have done. Life can be so tricky but it sounds like you are setting the perfect example on relationships. I’m not sure her age, but I suspect this will be the first of many playing each other off each other in the teen years. Your relationship with her father will be a good way to combat that. Keep busy is good. Not that she could be doing this for a myriad of reasons, one being that she feels sorry for her father never having it, or wanting some more of his attention if he’s a little crap at that (it’s her way to force him). Either way, you are the winner in that scenario, because you are doing it so right that she doesn’t feel the need to try with you, as much as that may hurt. We don’t have that issue but I have always invited my husbands recently divorced friends to xmas at my parents when they’re without their kids. I have no idea what they make of it but they come and some have even come a couple of times. #KCACOLS

  46. It will be hard, but I am sure you will have a lovely time with your family until Olivia is back. My kids always stay at their dad’s Christmas eve and he brings them back Christmas day at lunchtime, that’s when I have my Christmas “morning” with them. It is quite nice for hubby and I to have a little time to ourselves Christmas day and we get a lie in lol. I hope you have a lovely Christmas x

  47. It’s never easy to do it but you seem to handle it pretty well. It’s so important for the children! I hope you have a lovely xmas . #KCACOLS

  48. In the past 17 years I’ve only had my kids with me for 4 or 5 christmas and 3 of those have been in the last 6 years. I have 3 boys now 17, 21 and 24, we tried alternate years, but they said they’d like to spend it with their dad because christmas was for the whole family and their father is one of 7 and everyone was at Granny’s on xmas day, so we turned new Year into a big event, big lunch, extra presents and friends round to see the new year in, the boys loved it that way, we still had christmas and hubby and I got to spend Christmas in a hotel, with my grand mother, with friends, on holiday, in a caravan.

  49. Christmas time must be really tough when you share custody. ALthough it will be tough for you this year, what a blessing it is that her dad and you get on and have worked hard to maintain a healthy relationship. So often, when relationships end and kids are involved, you hear of the kids being used as pawns in some terrible vindictive tug of war. I hope you still manage to have a good Christmas. #PoCoLo

  50. I’m on the other side, as a step parent. We take it in turns and always have. This year they aren’t waking up with us but we’ll pick them up later on Christmas Day and have them for a few days. I always wonder how strands Christmas morning must feel for their mum when they are here. I know my other half feels quite sad on Christmas morning when we don’t have them. It’s not just about him anymore though. Our two little ones miss out on Christmas with their big sisters which I think is a shame. This arrangement is the fairest and has always worked for us so far though. They’re reaching an age where they will soon be able to let us know if our arrangements aren’t what they want though, so it could all change very soon.

  51. What a great post Tracey. It’s nice to come over to your blog. I’ve been a single mum for most of my son’s life and he’s now nearly 11. I have always shared Xmas Eve with my son’s dad as I thought he should get to have the experience too. The first one when he was 2 was the hardest and I remember crying a lot but after that, it got easier. It helped that my sister is unmarried, without children and so I’d always do something nice with her. This year my son was supposed to be spending Xmas eve with his dad and xmas day with me but we’ve chosen to swap so that my son can spend time with his little brother and cousins on Xmas day. There won’t be any children coming with me so we made a decision that was best for my son. I’ll be drinking and eating far too much and will pick him up again on Boxing Day. Christmas is always a tricky one for separated parents, I’d love to know what it felt like to have a family all together at Christmas, it must be lovely. You’ll get through it just fine with your sister and nieces. xxx #POCoLo

  52. I remember split Christmases when I was a kid and I didn’t really think how hard it would have been on my parents. They lived either ends of the country so we’d be away for the week. #pocolo

  53. Thank you for including me. It’s not getting any easier to think about as we get closer, but we have lots of fun Christmassy things planned in the run up.

  54. This is such a great post, thanks for including me and I hope your Christmas morning won’t be too weird, single parenting is the hardest thing you’ll ever do, especially at Christmas xx