Surviving Christmas as a single parent is a daunting task, especially if you’ve only recently separated from your partner. Not only are there practical considerations to take care of, such as who has the kids on certain days and how on earth you’ll make your budget stretch far enough, but it can also be quite an isolating time.
Everywhere you look, there are happy families. And whilst you’re grateful for what you’ve got and you’re trying to make the best of it, it can be easy to find yourself feeling down and dejected.
There’s no denying that navigating Christmas as a single parent can be tough, but you can absolutely get through this and create a festive season crammed full of happy memories. Here are some of my very best tips…
Sit down and talk through the arrangements with your ex
If your ex will be spending time with the kids over Christmas, then communication is absolutely essential. When will they be picked up, and then dropped back off? How will you manage Christmas day itself? Can you come to an arrangement that’s best for everyone, but most importantly your children?
Getting crystal clear on the arrangements will help things to go as smoothly as possible, and help to avoid any disagreements or arguments. Something that often works well is to alternate each year… So you might have the kids on Christmas Eve this year, but your partner has them next.
Consider getting together with friends who are in the same situation
A big thing to consider when you’re facing Christmas as a single parent is the amount of work that it takes. There’s dinner to cook, dishes to wash, presents to wrap and of course all the tidying up afterwards. On your own, it can be overwhelming. If you have friends who are also single parents, why not get together for the day?
You could provide the roast, whilst your friend takes care of the sides and the dessert. The washing up is shared, and there’s a sense that you aren’t alone. Having another family around can also help to keep the kids entertained throughout the day, which can alleviate a bit of the pressure.
Establish new festive traditions with the kids
Think about the things from your childhood Christmases that stick in your head the most. Maybe it’s the bacon sandwich that your mum would make on the morning, or the carol service that you’d attend before the gifts were opened.
Life may be different now that you’re a single parent, but it presents a great opportunity to create your own traditions and set the scene for wonderful memories being made.
Don’t let your budget slide out of view
With just wage coming into the home, you may need to tighten your belt. What’s really important to remember here is that you don’t have to blow your budget just because it’s Christmas. The last thing that you want to find in the new year is that you’re completely skint, or shackled with debts that will take you months to pay off.
Work out exactly how much you can afford to spend, and start your planning from there. You might have to make some compromises, but a bit of forward planning can really go a long way.
Remember that you’re doing a great job and you deserve some relaxation
When we think about Christmas as a single parent, many of us imagine an extremely stressful time. You know what though? You deserve to rest. You deserve to put your feet up. You deserve to celebrate another year of doing your best, and making the most of any situation that you find yourself in.
Yes, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to run away on a spa weekend, complete with treatments and champagne and endless luxuries. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t spend a little time each day relaxing, reflecting, and appreciating what you have. It can do wonders for your overall peace of mind and wellbeing.
This Christmas will no doubt come with its challenges, and it won’t be plain sailing for everyone. But you can get through it, and you can fill it with happy moments for you and your family.
Do you have any advice that you’d share with newly single parents who are facing the festive period with a little apprehension?