5 tips to survive and thrive through Mother's Day after separation and divorce


Mother's Day is just around the corner on Sunday, May 13th, this year


If this is the first time it’s rolled around for you since you separated, it's likely to bring with it some tension and stresses but a little planning can help you to get through it as smoothly as possible.

Mother’s Day is a special time for families to express how much love and appreciation they have for their mothers, but this day can also stir up mixed emotions if you have a strained relationship with your mother or the family is dealing with a separation or divorce. This blog article deals only with the issues surrounding separation and divorce.


A stressful time for kids

As well as being difficult for parents, Mother's Day can also be stressful for children.

Many worry about how they will get to spend time with their Mum, where they will source gifts or cards and about whether there will be tension between their parents, especially if they know they are supposed to be spending the time with their Dad that weekend. 

It is a great opportunity for you, as responsible, loving parents to show your kids that even though you are not together as a couple anymore, you put the children first and you acknowledge and respect the role a mother plays in a family.


Here are some 5 tips to help you make celebrating this Mother’s Day enjoyable for everyone:

  1. Mother’s Day is a parent-specific celebration, so if possible, kids should be able to spend the day with their mother.  Of course, the same is true for fathers when their day is celebrated later in the year.  Start planning now what the normal routine would be on the second weekend in May and make necessary changes well in advance if needs be. If it is possible for the kids to be with Mum the night before so they can all wake up together, that might be ideal.   Once you have agreed on the schedule, record it in writing so that everyone knows exactly what is happening and Mum can look forward to some fun, stress-free time spent with her kids.  Communicate the plans to your children well in advance so they can also relax and not worry about having to ask you what’s happening.

  2. Let your kids plan what they’d like to do for their Mum on this day, and help them as much as possible in order to make their plans happen.  If you have very young children, perhaps you could ask the Mum, or one of her friends or family members how they would like the day to go. If you have teenagers, they should be able to take some responsibility for making appropriate arrangements but you may need to give them a nudge to make time in their busy weekend schedule.

  3. If your family had a routine for Mother’s Day prior to your separation, you may not be able to make this year’s celebration turn out the same way.  Consider establishing a new tradition: instead of a large family brunch, make it a small picnic with just Mum and kids; or as an alternative to buying Mum flowers, arrange for the children to spend the day with her in the local botanical gardens or parks.

  4. If the kids are staying with Dad and the parents are out of practical travelling distance from each other, it’s possible that Mother’s Day may be spent away from Mum. Kids often worry about the parent who is left alone on these special days so it is important to make sure you facilitate some way for them to contact their Mum in a meaningful way.  Encourage your kids to call using Skype of any of the other video chat apps to have a special, connected conversation with their Mum.

  5. Dads, start thinking a couple of weeks in advance when the children are spending time with you, what you might be able to do with the kids so they can give or send their Mum something to show their love and help to make the day special for her.  It may not be high on your list of priorities to be giving a gift to your ex-partner.  Consider it rather as a gift to your child.  If you are spending time with the kids making something for their Mum, your child will relish your company and the quality time spent together.  If you’re not the crafting kind or your kids are a bit older and you’re less likely to get them involved in making something than you are to get them to clean their bedroom, take them shopping or prepare something small for them. Whatever you do, don’t let them turn up empty-handed. It doesn't have to be lavish. Every mother loves a handmade card – even if it is a folded piece of A4 computer paper with a hasty pencil sketch on the front – trust me on this one!

For ideas on what you can make with your children read: Craft hacks for single parents: 15 cheap home-based activities for kids of all ages


It's all for your kids!

Celebrating Mother’s Day in a respectful way after you’ve separated or divorced is a perfect opportunity for a parent to show that they recognise and respect the relationship that will always remain between Mum and the kids even though the family dynamics have shifted. 

It’s the ideal chance to show your kids that despite your differences, you are prepared to put them first and that you and their mother are still a team when it comes to raising the good kids.

Set aside your frustrations for this day, if not for your ex, then for your kids.  

Keep striving to thrive.

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Christine Weston
Founding Director - Divorce Resource

You may also like to read:

“Help! My ex won’t let me see my children. What can I do?”

At what age can a child decide who they live with?

7 Ways parents can help children cope with separation and divorce

How to combat overwhelm and anxiety attacks

Should coercive control and parental alienation in family matters be a criminal offence?

Narcissist, psychopath, sociopath: understanding the toxic person in your life


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