Christmas time is a happy occasion for most families but for a single parent, it may not be as fun. Sharing holidays with your children may not be ideal for yourself but you have to remember that the arrangements you made with your ex-partner were implemented fairly for the both of you.
You may spend Christmas every other year with your children but just because you’re spending the holidays alone this time round doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the fun out of the occasion. So how do we survive our first Christmas as a divorced parent? How can we adapt to our changed lifestyle for the special occasion?
Here are some of our top tips:
Come up with new Christmas traditions
Now that you’re a single parent, the traditions you used to share as a family won’t be done this time round, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be creative with your new ones. There are so many options you can do with your children (and for yourself!) and you’ll be able to share memories with them doing these every year. Whether you have the kids every other Christmas or on Christmas Eve, it’s important to stick to them so then that way they have something to look forward to when they spend the holidays with you.
Below are some suggested traditions:
Have a pyjama party – You can never go wrong when it comes to watching your favourite Christmas flicks with your kids. Grab some of your favourite junk food and recite every memorised line you know while watching It’s A Wonderful Life or How The Grinch Stole Christmas!
Save up those silver coins – Christmas doesn’t have to be an expensive occasion for the kids. Instead of buying gifts this year, you could encourage them to start their own money jar and save up for a gift they could get for someone they care about. It could either be for a relative or a close friend.
Get your children involved with the Christmas decorations – Letting your kids get involved with decoration can be a fun and memorable way to spend time with them. Although you may not have time to see them this Christmas, you can look at the decorated tree and remember the smiles and laughs you shared while decorating. You could get crafty and encourage your kids to make the decorations themselves or go out to the shops and buy reasonably priced ornaments and tinsel.
Get some help in the kitchen – When your kids are old enough, you can get them involved by choosing what dishes they want to cook for Christmas. You could find yourself baking pies, cutting up ingredients for your mains and icing the pavlova cake for dessert. Getting them involved in some way can make it more memorable for them.
Be flexible with the arrangements you’ve made with your ex-partner
Not having your kids for Christmas this year means you’ll have to make the arrangements with your children work for you and them. This could mean having an early Christmas dinner and opening up presents a few days before Christmas. If your ex-partner is taking the children with them for a mini-holiday during Christmas time, make the most of this opportunity by spending some quality alone time.
You can take the time to pamper yourself, catch up with some of your friends or family or take the time to prepare for your children’s return. Don’t feel pressured into competing with your ex-partner when it comes to celebrating Christmas. Being materialistic and spending too much money on gifts is impractical. Remember that Christmas is celebrating the togetherness of family and creating positive memories to share with each other.
Get help from your family and friends
Just because you’re single this year doesn’t mean you can’t get help from your family and friends. Being alone during the holidays can bring us down sometimes so it helps to have some company and be with your family and friends. Instead of shopping alone for Christmas, get your closest friend to come with you to help decide on what gifts you should get for the kids and your loved ones.
Also if you need help when it comes meal preparations for your Christmas dinner, let a relative help you out with the cooking and cleaning. You don’t have to do everything on your own. Having a little help can make you feel less stressed during the busiest time of the year.
You can’t put a price tag on memories!
Getting your children some cool presents can be a nice thing to do but Christmas time shouldn’t be about how much money you’ve spent on them. Spending quality time with your kids and coming up with thoughtful gifts can really make it a special occasion for them. You could write a thoughtful letter, curate a thoughtful gift box or provide them a cardboard box where they can run their own restaurant for trade when it comes to playtime.
Making memories with your children is something you should aim to do this Christmas even if it means celebrating the occasion early. If you’re spending this year alone, go sign up for some volunteer roles to help out charities and non-profit organisations. Giving back to the community is a great way to get involved during the holidays and will be a great distraction from thinking about not having the kids for Christmas this year.
Take care of yourself
Surviving your first Christmas as a single parent can be tough and while there’s things to distract you with, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll make things less difficult for you. Be sure to take care of yourself this time round and do some self-reflection. Be sure to pamper yourself and have an open mind when it comes to celebrating Christmas. If you’re feeling lonely, angry or depressed, know that there is at least one person that will listen to your thoughts and feelings.
There are also some helplines available like Lifeline (13 11 14), Mensline Australia (1300 78 99 78) and ParentLine (1300 30 1300) where professional counsellors can listen to your problems. Just because you’re a single parent doesn’t mean you’re automatically rid of your feelings of loneliness and depression. It always helps to talk to someone and vent in order to clear your mind and take some weight off your shoulders.
Being a single parent is tough and we understand that many of us will struggle to cope with our first Christmas without our kids. Remember that there’s always help available when you find yourself struggling to cope with anxiety and depression this time of year. Although things are different from what they were in the past, always aim to prioritise the kids and create some happy memories together.
Christmas doesn’t have to be a downer for you just because you’re no longer with your ex-partner. Even though things aren’t the same anymore, you can still make Christmas special and memorable for the people you care about.