Single parenting in general can be tough. I talk a lot of things over with my married coworkers and some of them remind me that having a spouse doesn’t always make things easier.
While I know they mean well, their “be careful what you wish for” speeches fall on scarred ears. I know we all have our struggles, but unless you have lived this single parent life (and I don’t wish it on you), you have no clue what it’s like. Single parenting during the holidays is a next level struggle for some of us.
To all the single parents that know the struggle, I am thinking of you this holiday season. I know how much it sucks to only receive gifts that you purchased for yourself (we love your noodle necklaces too kids!). I know that trying to assemble the toy that said it would only take 30 minutes but takes three hours because the instructions are in a language you don’t understand frustrates you. I know the Olympics of trying to have the timer on your camera perfectly set, so you can catch those happy moments with your kids. I know the feeling of dread when being asked for the millionth time if you’re still single at family gatherings. I also know what it’s like to have everyone trying to introduce you to someone that looks like you’ve seen them on Investigation Discovery. I feel your pain.
I want to offer you my tips on surviving single parenting this holiday season. Some of these I’m still working on myself.
1. Before the season starts, pray, meditate, exercise, or whatever it is that you do to find peace. You’ll be centered before much of the madness begins. Start now.
2. When you order the thing that is going to take you three hours to put together, ship it to a friend’s house who likes putting things together – with their approval of course. Or offer that friend food or something they like to help you assemble it. If that doesn’t work for you, and you can afford it, pay someone to put it together. It will make your life easier. Don’t forget to hide it after it’s assembled!
3. Don’t wait until the eve of the holiday to prepare for the holiday. You will lose it. Ask for help. I know, it’s hard, but ask anyway.
4. Have you heard of the four gifts of Christmas? Something to wear, something to read, something you want and something you need? Every year I try to adopt this. It hasn’t worked yet, but I have tremendously cut down on the gifts I buy. Give gifts that are meaningful mixed with something fun. Don’t buy anything that you’ll want to “accidentally” step on by the end of the day.
5. Do something that brings you joy. For me, it’s watching A Christmas Story, eating warm cookies, and good cup of hot tea. Try not to get so stressed out that you forget to take a moment or two for yourself.
6. If waking up alone on holidays bothers you, invite a sibling, a friend, or grandparents to spend the night. Chances are, it will make everyone a bit merrier.
7. Cry if/when you need to. Release those pinned in emotions. Make room for the happy moments.
8. Make memories that you and your kids will cherish. For me, this accidentally became matching pajamas to open on Christmas Eve and a movie. I think this year it will be The Grinch. My daughter isn’t quite ready for Die Hard. The Polar Express is another kid appropriate option.
9. If you are invited somewhere and you don’t want to go, don’t go. Find peace in your decision and do what makes you happy.
10. Remember that you are doing a great job. Enjoy unlimited snuggles, family favorite books, and the reason(s) that you continue to push on.
I am sharing this with you so I remember to do some of these things myself. I hope that if you normally struggle being a single parent during the holidays, this year will be different. I wish you peace and blessings!