12 Parenting Tips for Christmas

There are 12 days of Christmas and 12 reindeer.  As 12 is an important number at Christmas time, here are…  12 Parenting Tips for Christmas.

Whilst this may be aimed more at parties who have separated and are co-parenting, many of these tips apply to all families and are suggestions about how to deal with those family dilemmas that pop up over the festive season.

1. Angel – Be prepared

Don’t leave things until the last minute.  Get the news out as early as possible and speak to the other parent about what needs to get done to prepare for the holidays in terms of child care arrangements, travel, and any other decisions that need to be made.


2. Mary and Joseph – You as parents

Even though, as a couple, you may no longer be together, you are both still parents. Working together for your children is what will make Christmas enjoyable for you all – don’t put the pressure on young children by asking questions like “Whose house do you want to spend Christmas at?” Those are decisions for the parents to make.


3. Donkey – Travelling

If you are travelling away over Christmas with the children, you may need to put arrangements in place for make up time so that the parent who hasn’t travelled away with the children can spend extra time with them over the long holidays.


4. Star – Direction

Navigate your way through the decisions that need to be made: gift buying, food preparation and family visits.  Having direction (maybe using a planner or calendar) will help make the holidays enjoyable for all.

5. Three Wise Men – Accommodating different cultures

People and families have different ways of celebrating Christmas.  There may be certain cultural or religious traditions to observe.  Take time to consider and discuss these to ensure they are accommodated so the children don’t miss out.


6. Gold, frankincense and myrrh – Not about gifts

Remember money / gifts are not what Christmas is about.  It should not be the presents that the children (or adults) are focused on.  Rather the relationship and quality time with their parents and family.  Don’t make it about the presents.

7. The Inn Keeper – Unexpected guests

We should always be prepared for unexpected guests (or a change of events or plans) during the holidays.  Keep calm when you need to accommodate a change in parenting arrangements.


8.  Stable – Plan B

The stable was the ‘plan B’ for the birth of Jesus as the Inn was full.  We know to ‘expect the unexpected’ so it may be a good idea to have a back up plan when things go wrong, trips are delayed or family arrive unexpectedly (see above).  Discuss this with the other parent.


9. Sheep – Don’t sweat the small stuff

Whilst the sheep might be a small part of the nativity, all together a flock of sheep can be large in numbers.  Deal with the small issues calmly (but not sheepishly), so they don’t become bigger issues.  If, for example parents end up getting the same present for the child, or someone is slightly late for changeover – don’t make a big deal out of it.


10. Shepherd – Don’t be a follower

Don’t let other people around you decide how you should navigate arrangements over Christmas, every family is different and what works for one family might not necessarily work for you.  As children grow up, arrangements might need to be reviewed. What you did 3 years ago might not be the best choice for this year.


11. Baby Jesus – What is most important

Remember the most important thing at Christmas is creating happy memories for you and your family.



12. Santa Claus – Be truthful

Whilst children should hear information that is age appropriate for them, it is not OK to tell children something that is not going to happen, or is untrue.  As hard as it may be to tell children they may not see the other parent on Christmas Day, it is better than them being disappointed on the day.


Joelene Nel is a family lawyer and mediator at McLaughlins Lawyers.  As a mother of 2 children, Joelene uses the above tips when she co-parents with her children’s father to try and ensure that the Christmas holidays are fun and enjoyable for all.  If you are finding it difficult to reach agreement with the other parent about arrangements with your children, Joelene can act as a mediator and help parents reach agreement about family matters.  You can call Joelene on (07) 5591 5099 to discuss your family law matter. 

[Thanks to our McLaughlins Lawyer paralegal, Suzanne Falzon, for her contribution to these parenting tips]


Author: Joelene Nel

Director: Sophie Pearson

Date: 6 December 2019