Regardless of how long you’ve been a single parent or the circumstances surrounding your family, being a single parent at Christmas is tough. It’s not just the practicalities such as finances that are stressful, every family occasion puts on emotional strain on all single parents. This Christmas will be my 3rd Christmas as a single parent and I can assure you it does get easier as the years go by, but every year is difficult on a variety of levels.
It’s hard not to notice the seemingly happy unbroken families, I know that. There is an immense pressure on single parents to do everything they can to make Christmas perfect, despite Mummy and Daddy living in different houses. Something as simple as visiting Santa can bring back memories of years gone by, and it’s immensely difficult to remain upbeat for the children when you wish things could have been different.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to turn back the clocks, but there is something about Christmas that makes us nostalgic isn’t there? All of the supermarkets are playing Christmas tunes and every Christmas event is filled with families and happy couples. One thing I’ve learnt over the past few years is that it’s okay to have a little cry once the children are in bed. It’s okay to feel completely overwhelmed. It’s okay to simply survive Christmas…
Since we became a family of three, I have tried to make Christmas entirely different.
Not because I didn’t love the Christmas’s we had before, but because a Christmas reminiscent of previous years would have been tough on both the children and me. I have fully immersed myself in silly traditions such as Elf On The Shelf and each year we make our own family tree decorations.
Whether you are facing your first Christmas as a single parent, or you are a seasoned pro at flying solo, I’m sure you’ll be feeling the strain as the big day approaches. Here is some tips for surviving the festivities:
- Don’t bottle up how you are feeling. Talk to friends and family, allow them to support you and when you need to cry, just cry.
- Make new traditions, create new memories. Children love family traditions and you have the power to make their Christmas dreams come true. Something as simple as a Christmas Eve movie marathon each year is incredibly exciting for children of all ages.
- Try and spend less time on social media. Mindlessly scrolling through endless images of picture perfect families won’t do you any favours.
- Let the children have some control over how you do Christmas, let them decorate the tree and pick the movies. Let them choose what they want to eat and when they want to open presents. Just relax and let them take the lead.
- Make as many plans as you possible can – look online for local Christmas events and things to do with the children during the Christmas break. This will give you all something to get excited about.
- Don’t over-compensate with gifts. No amount of gifts will change how things have worked out, so make sure you don’t overspend. Try and give the children what they have asked for, but don’t feel like you need to go overboard.
And remember, the grass isn’t greener on the other side.
I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, so I try not to spend too much time wandering what could have been. As for all of those smiley happy faces wondering the streets and filling social media, ignore them. You don’t know what goes on behind closed doors or what battles everyone else is facing. No-ones worlds are entirely perfect, despite what the movies portray. Just embrace what you have and how far you have come and have a truly wonderful Christmas.