With Christmas fast approaching, with all its festive cheer and family gatherings galore, it can be a joyful time for some, yet a challenging time for others.
Here are 5 things I do to navigate the Christmas Holidays as a solo parent:
- Celebrate Family Diversity and Uniqueness: We often embrace and celebrate the uniqueness of our family structure. I explain to my daughter that families come in various forms, and what is common is the love they share. At times, Christmas can highlight the stereotypical nuclear family that looks different to ours, so we use the opportunity to recognise that and appreciate the diversity in different family structures. We talk about how different families have their own ways of doing Christmas and discuss the way we like to celebrate in our family.
- Create New Traditions: We are establishing our own holiday traditions that are meaningful and special for us. We are getting quite the collection of traditions going. We go to a Christmas Eve Panto, we are hoping for a Christmas Day walk weather permitting. I have a Christmas shopping day with my friends. We do a breakfast with Santa, we decorate the trees together (we have 3, excessive I know!), we do Christmas Eve Board games, a Christmas family jigsaw! So many things. Whatever it is you enjoy, it is nice to create your own traditions that you look forward to and that create lovely memories together.
- Celebrate with your extended tribe: We celebrate all throughout December with different groups of friends and family. You can make arrangements with as many different people as you want. We always have a school friends Christmas, we have an extended family Christmas buffet on the 23rd December, we have a solo mum Christmas meet up in December and this year Christmas Day is with my parents. Having no partner doesn’t have to mean a small Christmas if that’s not what you want. We involve all our family and friends at this time of year because that works for us.
- Embrace Pre Loved Giving: Our house is very much a pre loved Christmas gift kind of house! We don’t believe in going overboard with gifts, it’s defo more about creating memories for us. For my family we do a secret santa with a £30 limit and for my daughter everything is pre loved. I talk to her about the fact that her gifts used to belong to someone else and now they have finished with them, they will come to us until we finish with them and pass them back on to someone else. I also give pre loved for some of my friends kids who I know will be onboard with it. I LOVE finding something that I know will bring someone joy and giving a new lease of life to something that someone else no longer wants. It’s good for our purse strings as well as the environment. I try to minimise unnecessary spending at Christmas and focus on experiences rather than material gifts.
- Take time for Self Care: The holidays can be emotionally challenging for solo parents with little time available for ourselves. I try to ensure I have built in various times to prioritise self-care. For me, this ranges from a night away for a spa break with a friend, to an hour to myself to get to an exercise class. I’ve taken a few scattered days off work to give me some time for myself to wrap the presents and get the house organised. I will also ask for a few hours support here and there from my parents to allow me just to have a bit of time to myself. Creating this time, gives me more energy and allows me to be on my best form with my daughter.
These strategies have really helped me to ensure I am making the most of holidays and that I can really enjoy the time rather than feeling stressed by it. I don’t put too much pressure on myself to make it picture perfect, but just try to embrace the spirit and do what works for us.
How do you manage the holidays as a solo parent?