The Christmas Custody Conundrum

Tomorrow the kids go off to their dad’s for the weekend, as they do every fortnight.

It used to be a time I really looked forward to, a time to re-calibrate my burned out engine, to catch up on sleep and friends. Those two nights I was guaranteed not to have a night of broken sleep were so precious and spending the weekend pleasing only myself was divine.

But now, three years down the road it feels… different. I don’t know if it’s because of the sleep or because the three of us are so used to rubbing along happily together but I really dread the weekend they’re away. I miss them terribly – the house is quiet, I miss their chatter and cuddles and activities. I even sometimes miss the early mornings.

HAHAH only kidding. And going out after dark in that weekend is still a beautiful novelty.

This feeling of dread becomes so much worse at Christmas time. As I thought only fair, when I got divorced the ex and I agreed on a one-on one-off system, so every other year we’d each have the company of the kids on Christmas day. The year I have them is brilliant – so wonderful– but the year I spend without them is a special kind of torture.

Christmas is about children: not having them there kind of defeats the object. My ex-husband and I get on very well so I hope one day we might be able to spend Christmases together. I know some families have the arrangement that the children spend Christmas with the parent who has them the most, but I think this might make me feel guilty though I’m sure they’ll have their own opinions about where they want to be when they’re older (I know I used to!).

Because of the differing custody struggles over Christmas, family law experts Simpson Millar commissioned researched into how divorced families spend their festive season and produced this gifographic as a result:


It’s nice to see we’re not bucking the trend on too many fronts and thankfully we haven’t yet had many of those arguments – I’m sure there’s still time though! Interestingly I’ve never investigated what family law says about the Christmas custody: I’m sure there are hundreds of variations on what could happen depending on circumstance.

For now I’m happy maintaining our satisfied divorced family relationship by doing what we all think is right.

Happy Christmas!

Collaborative post. 

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. Hannah wrote:

    I’m a kid of divorce (????????) and used to spend days split 50/50… So Christmas/birthday/Easter morning with one parent, and the afternoon/night with the other. I don’t understand why more families don’t do this when they live close to each other – it worked so great! And when I was older I sometimes got to fly solo on Christmas Day – it was awesome!

    Posted 12.18.15 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      I would love to do this! From my scientific research (school gate chat) lots of mums in the area do the same but my children’s dad lives a 3 hour drive away :( Love the sound of flying alone as a kid though!

      Posted 12.18.15 Reply
  2. Emma Connolly wrote:

    When I separated from the father of my children many moons ago, we spent the first couple together. But now we both do Christmas Day! We take it in turns, so this year he will pick them up Christmas Eve evening, and keep them for Christmas dinner, then he’ll drop them back after dinner and we then do our presents and stay up eating chocolate and watching films, next yr it will just be the other way round. We’re both happily re-married now, but doing this softens the blow for the both of us, plus the kids love it! Double Christmas whammy!

    I wish you a happy Christmas and a fabulous new yr


    Posted 12.18.15 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      This is what my single mum friend at school does! I’d love to do it too, it really does sound like the best system, but the ex lives a loooong 3 hour drive away and nobody wants to be sat on the motorway on Christmas Day :'(
      Hope you also have a wonderful Festive period! xxx

      Posted 12.18.15 Reply
  3. cathy lavictoire wrote:

    I love your blog Alice and its been a bit of a life saver, my husband and I are trying to get through our first Christmas co-parenting we separated the beginning of November and we are spending Christmas together for our little ones, it’s so tricky and I am dreading it but the main priority is making sure the kids have a great time but my goodness I have needed a few girls nights to get me through these tough few weeks and I really want to to get back to my blog in the new year! Hope you and you and your little ones have a lovely Christmas and wishing you a very happy 2016! Much love Cathy x x

    Posted 12.22.15 Reply