holidays as a single parent - woman leaning on the kitchen counter, scrolling through her cell phone,sipping a drink from a mug with christmas lights, greenery, holly berries and a clock laying on the table in front of her.

Decking The Holidays as a Single Parent

Having a Merry Christmas for Single Parents

The holiday season is full of warmth and family. But, if you’re a single parent, the holidays can be tough. Enjoying the holidays as a single parent is possible and I am going to show you how.

If you’re new to single parenthood, this first holiday may be a rough transition for you and your kids. You might feel like you need to distract your kids from the changes (especially for older kids) and do things bigger than before.

You might also try to maintain some continuity from how things were before.

As you know, not all single parents come from the end of a relationship. Some people choose to be single parents.

Whether by choice or by circumstance, the challenges of single parenthood remain. Here are some ways to make the holidays a little easier on you and the kids.

  1. Focus on family
  2. Don’t Focus on Gifts as Much
  3. Gift, Experiences
  4. Start Your Own Traditions
  5. Harmonious Co-Parenting
  6. Get Help

1. Focus on Family

Remember that Christmas isn’t about the stuff — or rather, it shouldn’t be. It is a time to focus on family. As a single parent, it’s you and your kids. Spend the time that you might have away from work and through all of the holiday festivities with your kids.

If this is a new situation for your family, use this time to reassure your kids that while things have changed, your love for them has not. Keep in mind that family is not limited to blood; family is what you make it.

If things aren’t so festive with some of your family members, expand your circle of love to include people who love and support you. Make plans with family near and far.

2. Don’t Focus on Gifts as Much

Finances are a challenge for many single parents. This money stress feels more intense, especially the first holidays as a single parent.

Every parent wants to provide their kids with a happy holiday.

But, the end of a relationship may also include a change in financial circumstances. You may be going from two incomes to one. If that’s the case, you may not be in a position to buy a lot of gifts for your kids. If this is a big change for what your kids are used to, it may be a tough transition.

Avoid any temptation you have to outdo the other parent. I’m sure debt is not on your Christmas list.

If your kids are older, talk about the holidays in advance. Discuss what your goals are for your family and what you can do together. Decide on a family gift that will give you all the sense of love and support you need.

3. Gift Experiences

Do your kids really need a bunch of new toys this year? I guess that depends on who you’re asking.

But think about it… toys are messy, they break and they fall out of favor pretty fast. Not to mention the expense!

What kids are in short supply of is time with their parents. Life is so busy and just getting busier each day. How often do you plan time to just have fun together?

Is this the year you get a family pass to the zoo/ aquarium? Go-karting or a bounce/ trampoline park sounds fun, right? Think about gifts you can get that encourage family time.

holidays as a single parent -mother handing daughter a small, present, wrapped in glittery red paper and bow - sitting by a green lit christmas tree and gold tinsel.
Photo via aabsys, Getty Images Signature

4. Start Your Own Traditions

Strike a balance between continuing some of the traditions you had as a two parent family, but create some new ones as well. There may be things you did or wanted to do that you haven’t up to this point.

For example, we always have pizza on Christmas Eve!

If you are co-parenting, your kids may be alternating which holidays are spent with you. If that’s the case, then be flexible and even creative in how you spend your time together. It may be that Christmas for you happens before or after the actual holiday.

If so, just go with it! Your kids will take their cues from you.

This might be a year when you’re on your own. Don’t let it get you down, just make plans to travel or spend an extended time away visiting family. At home, invite other holiday-orphaned parents over to enjoy the holiday with.

5. Harmonious Co-Parenting

If you are coming from a recent relationship, division of holidays is likely a part of your parenting plan. In fact, you may not want to interact with the other parent at all.

If sharing time with younger kids, it may be harder to let them go and still feel whole. It’s always hard to share our babies.

For many people, there is no harmony in co-parenting.

Naturally, any cooperation between the two of you will depend on the status of your co-parenting relationship. It’s harder to tap into your charitable side when animosity is high.

For the sake of the kids, if there’s any chance of harmony, set your issues aside and come together. It doesn’t have to be for the entire day, maybe just for dessert. Show your kids that while you may not be together anymore, you still remain united when it comes to them.

6. Get Help

The holidays, while fun and joyous, are a lot of hard work. Finances aside, there’s a lot of planning, shopping, decorating and wrapping to do.

There’s a lot to do if there are two of you to carry the burden. But if it’s just you, please ask for help. It’s ok to ask for help. It’s not a sign that you aren’t making it. Not at all. In fact, it’s a sign that you’re safeguarding your well-being.

Do you have friends who love the holidays and all that goes with it. Reach out. Ask family to help hang lights or get a tree. Invite your friends and your kids friends over to trim the tree.

You are definitely not alone in your feelings. Offer your help to any single parents in your circle so you can carry the load together.

Key Takeaways of the Holidays as a Single Parent

The holidays as a single parent can be a challenging time. You may have to make compromises and sacrifices to get by. By putting the ideas shared here, you can take some of the pressure off of your shoulders.

  1. Focus on family
  2. Don’t Focus on Gifts as Much
  3. Gift Experiences
  4. Start Your Own Traditions
  5. Harmonious Co-Parenting
  6. Get Help

The holidays can be full of stress and and emotions for some. Protect your mental health and stay on top of how you’re feeling this season. If this is your first year on your own, it’s ok to feel down.

You’re human. Spread out your holiday tasks over a few months. Don’t add to your pressure by waiting until the very end.

But remember the change while challenging, can bring greatness.

If you are a new or seasoned single parent, I would love to hear how you manage the holidays with your kids. Please share in the comments below.

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