How to Survive Christmas as a Happy Single Mom
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Is this your first Christmas or holiday as a single mom? Or maybe you've been enduring this for a few years like myself? Whatever your situation, being a single mom during the holidays can suck. What was once a family-centric holiday, is now tainted by the pass off the kids and a lot of alone time.
It's finally here, The most wonderful time of the year and I couldn't be more excited. Unfortunately, not all single moms experience the same kind of joy during the Christmas season. Having to deal with new beginnings and leaving old holiday traditions behind, it can be tough. Here are some tips for surviving Christmas as a single mom.
I remember my first Christmas as a single mom. It was a very difficult year. My depression was at its worst and I was 9 months pregnant. To say my situation sucked would be an understatement. I remember feeling so alone and trying not to fall apart in front of my kids. Don't get me wrong, letting it all out it quite therapeutic, but I didn't want our change in family dynamics to affect my kids holiday completely.
The first year was definitely the hardest, but it did get better. In time, my heart healed as I put my energies into creating new events and projects to look forward to. Now my kids look forward to these new traditions too. At the beginning of October my two oldest asked me could we make cookies for Santa and go visit him at his house like we did the year before. How cute is that? These are things we never did before the split from their dad and now it's become our thing. Now I want to help you heal. I've compiled a list that will help you survive Christmas as a single mom.
Out With The Old, In With The New
Keeping my old holiday decor was an everyday reminder of what I lost. I was constantly reminded of Christmas past, of all of us together as a family. Also the fact that he picked out the tree and decorations for the tree made it hard to focus on the joy of the season. I honestly don't know why I kept them. Thinking back it was probably the most reasonable thing to do at the time, with finances in consideration. I was more focused with giving my kids a nice holiday.
If you can afford the expense, buy a new tree, new ornaments, and decorations. Hell, make an arts and crafts project for the kids by having them create their own ornaments. Then turn it into a new tradition, something they can look forward to every year and look back on as they get older.
Try Not To Dwell Too Much On The Sad Bits
The holidays can get a bit depressing, especially if you have to split time between two households. The first holiday as a single mom is the hardest. The kids are with their dad and now you're alone in your thoughts wishing the kids were home. Put your energies into something positive like putting together care packages for the homeless, feeding the hungry, yoga or spending time with friends at holiday parties.
And if the sadness outweighs everything else, it is okay to break down if that is what you need to do. Letting it out does help. For now, at least while you're alone, it is okay not to listen to cheery holiday music or watch super hopeful Christmas movies. Give yourself time to heal and be kind to yourself.
Create New Traditions
Like I stated earlier, create new memories going forward. Have the kids (if you have little ones) create their own ornaments, baking cookies for "Santa", family game night, dressing up in onesie pajamas and watching their favorites cartoons. Or have the kids make a gift for their siblings and one for you too. Some single moms have difficulty with this one because the kids may go tell dad about their new thing with mom, and he may start doing it too. If this happens to you, find a way to make your thing extra special.
Put your Pinterest mama skills to the test. New start, new traditions, equal better days going forward. It may take some getting used to, but trust me, the more special you make it, the more the kids will want to repeat them every year. Put the experience first for your kids and yourself.
Don't Over Spend Feeling Like You have To Compensate
Every year I give myself a solid budget of $200 to $250 for Christmas gifts for my kids. Keep in mind I have three under seven. Two hundred dollars is very doable for me because I do my shopping in bits, half in November and the other in December. I also don't feel like I need to overdo it because they get presents from my dad, stepmother, and of course, their dad.
Overspending to compensate for single parent shortcomings is definitely a big no-no. Spend well within your means, give yourself a solid budget, and don't go beyond that. Keep in mind that right after Christmas the rent or your mortgage is due. Let go of the mom guilt. You don't have to give them the world because kids who have "whole" families are able to get it all. That may not be true either.
Remember, it's okay to not feel the holiday spirit. However at least try to make the transition durable for your children. Focusing your emotions and energies on something positive can lessen the pain. Whatever it takes to make the holiday a little easier for you, do it. Have a drink, or a couple (don't drive), take a Xanax, go get pampered, go on a date, or just cry it out.
Do not spend the holidays wondering what might have been if you stuck it out with your ex and resent being a single mom. Accept the here and now. These are times your kids are sure to remember. So give them a Christmas better than the ones before, just stay within that budget girl!