Holidays as a Single Parent

If you’ve been divorced or separated recently and haven’t gone through a holiday alone yet, it will be tough. These are the days you most remember being with your spouse and spending them partially alone can get depressing. So, how do you survive the holidays? What can you do to bring back the joy? Here are a few suggestions.

Reconnect with your Extended Family

For me, I reconnected with my extended family and decided to spend my holidays with them. I visit my sister for Easter and Thanksgiving and my mom for Christmas. It’s nice because we share the cooking. If I spent the holidays with just my kids, I’d have to cook all the meals on my own and that would be a lot of work! This way I can bring dishes to pass and not be alone at the same time. My mom’s family comes to my sister’s for Thanksgiving and Easter too, so it’s a big group and my kids love playing with their cousins. It’s a win-win. I spend the day cooking, talking, drinking, and laughing with my sister and mom, who are my main supports now. I think being alone trying to create joyful holidays with just me and the kids would be too depressing.

Start New Traditions

I have things that I do for each holiday with the kids that have become our tradition. On Valentine’s Day, I have a scavenger hunt for them that ends with special gifts and candy. We eat a heart-shaped pizza with candles, dimmed lighting, and romantic music. For the boys’ birthdays, I make them their favorite meal and we have cake and presents. I always write my boys a letter on their birthdays. It’s long. I title it, “I’m so happy you’re now (10, or 9, or 8), but here’s what I’ll miss about (9, or 8, or 7). And then I talk about all the things we did together the year before from the Halloween costumes to the sports, to the school teachers, and our vacations together. I keep these letters in their scrapbooks so they’ll have them when they get older. For Christmas, we have presents and stockings and then we head to my mom’s for Christmas dinner. We spend a couple of days with our cousins. For Easter, we still color eggs and have Easter baskets. For July 4th, we bike down to the fireworks and light sparklers. For Halloween we go trick or treating and make sure to visit some of the houses that are decorated the best. For every holiday we have traditions that make them special and memorable. Try to stick with the things you’ve always done or make up new traditions for just you and the kids. It gives everyone something to look forward to and it grounds us.

Don’t Forget about Friends

Maybe you’re not close with your extended family and need to rely on friends more instead. Many of my friends are also single, so getting together with them over the holidays may be mutually beneficial. You can have a group of divorced friends and have a Christmas dinner together. Or you could do a gift exchange and invite the kids to join you. It’s easier to spend holidays with other people as a single adult. It staves off depression!

Make a Plan

You’ll probably have some time during the holidays when you are alone without the kids because your ex has them. This is hard. Try to make plans for what to do. Talk to a friend or family member. Go shopping. Clean the house. Plan for when the kids will be back. Take a trip somewhere just for you. Have a spa day. Play Christmas music really loud and make your favorite food. Buy some eggnog. Have a toast to yourself for surviving single parenting. Do something that is enjoyable for just you. Have some you time. It’s not going to be the same and it will hurt, but making plans and keeping busy does help. 

With some people and planning, the holidays don’t have to be depressing. You’ll fall into new routines and will adjust to the differences. You might eventually start to feel some joy too. There is joy after divorce. Take care of yourself! You can do it.

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