The holidays can be a great time for traditions and spending time with family. They are some of the most joyous times of the year. But they are also the time of year that brings a spike in the rates of depression and suicide.
Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years can be difficult for single moms especially. You are trying to do it all; buy the presents, plan the menu, cook the food, maintain the traditions, etc. And regardless of whether you have full custody of your kids, split time with your ex, or are the sole parent in your kids’ life due to a spouse’s death, there is a great deal of pressure on a single mom at the holidays.
Here are some ideas to help:
- Keep the old traditions that work for you. They won’t all work anymore, but keeping some old family traditions for you and your kids will help to keep up some stability in the holidays. Some family traditions you used to engage in before you became a single mom are worth keeping and will bring back good memories. Choose wisely, though.
- Create new traditions as needed. Like I said before, some family traditions will not work anymore with your new situation. Some traditions may be painful to keep, and are best dropped. You can always keep the spirit of the tradition, but change it just enough to make it more applicable to your new circumstances.
- Involve your children in planning which traditions to keep and which to change, or throw out completely. And allow them to help plan any new traditions for the family.
- Check with your church or house of worship to find activities they are offering during the holiday season. One of our traditions is to go to the candlelight service on Christmas Eve each year at our local church. There are also Christmas bazaars, youth activities, volunteer opportunities, and other activities in which you can be involved.
- Focus on “experiences” this year, and not on the “stuff.” Kids will remember the experience long after they have forgotten the gifts under the tree. Time spent in fun activities with your kids will never be a waste of time, and will give great memories for the rest of their lives.
- Keep it simple, and play to your strengths. In other words, don’t stress about doing it all – and choose activities that you can do well. If you like to bake, make an afternoon of baking Christmas cookies with your kids a family tradition. If you’re more of an outdoor girl, then ice skating or playing in the snow with your kids may be more of a fitting family tradition.
- Spend time with friends and family you like and that you want to spend time with, and will provide support and balance. Choose who you want to spend time with – you have that opportunity. You don’t have to choose to spend time with friends and family that aren’t supportive of you. You and your children deserve to spend your holidays with people that lift you up and want to invest in your life.
- Get together with other single moms, and schedule a time to watch their kids while they do their Christmas shopping, and they do the same for you. Plan a trip to the movies with another single mom and her children. Take another single mom and her kids with you when you pick out your Christmas tree, and you can help each other set up the trees.
- Plan a New Years Eve party/sleepover with other single moms and their children, complete with pizza and sparkling cider for the kids.
What if you are spending the holidays by yourself, without your children? If you have joint custody and visitation, you may be spending a holiday by yourself while your children are with your ex. Here are a few ideas to help you through:
- With kids over at your ex’s, you have the opportunity to go away for the holiday. Go out of town, go to the beach, etc. Enjoy being somewhere new, enjoy being by yourself, and enjoy being somewhere you enjoy.
- Get together with other single moms/parents who are in the same boat, and plan a dinner party or night out. Go to a movie or plan a potluck.
- Take some time alone, doing something you enjoy doing. Listen to your favorite music, watch the parade on TV in your pajamas and eating ice cream from the carton, read a book you’ve been wanting to read.
Have you dealt with changes in your holiday traditions, or had a hard time coping with the holidays? Tell us about it, or offer your own advice about what’s worked for you. Sharing is caring!