It’s difficult not to feel the holidays – the decorations, the carols, and the inundation of sales everywhere. But perhaps your journey into singlehood is leaving you feeling more like The Grinch; the lack of funds, multiple life changes, and children who may still be reeling from loss or divorce, may cause difficulties for this “jolly” time of year that weren’t present before. Since your life is “beginning anew” it’s important to dawn some new perspectives regarding the holidays as well.
Create new traditions
This doesn’t mean leaving the old ones altogether; as a matter of fact, it’s good to keep some of the old traditions, you just may need to fine-tune a little. Bake cookies together, prepare a meal together, craft handmade gifts together…. Do something thatall of you can continue participating in together every year.
Focus on what the holidays will truly mean to your family
Ideally, the holidays should mean more than just buying presents for each other. If you have religious beliefs surrounding Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, etc…., make sure you ground yourself in the “spirit” the holidays are meant to convey; involve yourself in the religious activities focusing on the hope, peace, and love the Holiday season is meant to bring.
Santa, toys, and cookies can be fun, but, as most material “things” lack true significance, the holidays can seem even more empty once all the boxes have been opened and the pretty paper and glistening bows are rammed/stuffed into a normal everyday garbage bag.
Avoid overspending or racking up debt
It’s easy to feel like you must make up for the loss your children have experienced due to loss and/or divorce. Remember, you don’t want to throw yourself into a financial tailspin for “things” that are unlikely to impart true, sincere meaning for your children. Keep it simple, and access local resources (such as Single Parent Advocate) for help.
Work with your ex on child visitation whenever possible and reasonable
Make a holiday visitation schedule with your ex that gives your children time with both of you. Typical child visitation arrangements expect parents to alternate holidays with their ex; if you legally have exclusive visitation every other holiday, still work with your ex to assure your children get visits with both parents during the holiday season, even when legally “it’s not their time” – it will be hugely appreciated by both your children and your ex. Keep in mind that small compromises and reasonable considerations in holiday visits can greatly reduce friction and stress with your ex, as well as bring you like returns next year. Remember: next year might be the odd holiday where you must miss out on the joy of your kids bursting in to open their presents; be mindful of how that might feel for your ex.
Make some time for yourself
Being a single parent can bring some enormous challenges, in and of itself,; but during the holidays, it may be even more important that you participate in activities that nourish yourself. Enjoying time to yourself will help you enjoy the time you have with your kids even more.
Give yourself a break and keep it simple
Pinterest and DIY sites are very creative, but don’t let yourself get bogged down with all the things that people are suggesting you “should” do with your kids. Play to your strengths: if you tend to be more of an outdoor person, take your children to a Christmas tree farm; if you tend to be more of a baker, then cook a holiday meal together; if crafting is your thing, then stick to simple projects the kids can do mostly by themselves (and they will feel better about it if they did most of the work).
These tips emphasize that it is important to keep yourself from feeling overwhelmed by either what is happening around you and/or what you may feel you “must” accomplish. You will likely have many more holiday seasons, with many more opportunities for success and failureso take it all in stride, breathe, and keep in mind:it’s just a season, and it will be over soon!