5 Holiday Survival Tips for Single Moms

Here come the holidays. Ready or not.

This season is supposed to be a time when we’re filled with joy and goodwill toward others, but if you’re a single mom you may experience the holiday blues. The hype of the holiday season can be mixed with intense pain and loneliness. It’s okay if you don’t feel like celebrating. You’re not alone.

The holidays can create unique anxieties and conflicts when you’re a single mom.

Release yourself of the pressure society says you should put on yourself to sing along (with a smile) to all the festive Christmas tunes—which started playing at the mall the day after Halloween.  If you’re feeling dread and grief over unmet expectations or your desire for life to be different, go ahead and admit it.

Then, try our 5 Holiday Survival Tips for Single Mom. These are a few tips our single moms have learned over the years that may help you better manage and enjoy the holiday season.

#1: Find Your Tribe

The holidays may have you feeling obligated to catch up with everyone, no matter how detrimental their presence may be to your own wellbeing. ‘Tis the season for family reunions, company parties, stuffy dinners, and road trips to visit Aunt Sally and your crazy cousins. It can feel like a time for people-pleasing, but maybe it doesn’t have to.

This year, choose to spend time and to celebrate the holidays with people who lift your spirits. Spending time with people out of a sense of obligation will only bring discomfort to you and your children. Make a list of the most encouraging people in your life. That’s your tribe!

Surround yourself with those people as much as possible during this season. Plan celebrations with friends (and with other single-parent families) if you will not be with your children and/or your extended family for the holidays.

#2: Quiet Your Spirit

If you have ever traveled by plane, you’ve heard the flight attendant say, “In case of an emergency, put your oxygen mask on first before helping your child.” The same works with stressful situations in life. The holidays can be a time of madness and mayhem. One way to reduce your children’s stress is to reduce your stress first.

Budget some “alone time” to satisfy your own needs. Consider taking a walk, having lunch with a good friend, listening to music, getting up a few minutes earlier to read your Bible and pray—whatever will help you quiet your spirit and reduce your stress level.

#3: Discuss Expectations

Plan time before the holidays get underway to discuss and plan things like visits and gift-giving. Try to agree on gift selection and cost, never attempting to outdo your former partner with better and more expensive gifts. If your ex-partner or extended family chooses to lavish inappropriately expensive gifts on your children (especially if you cannot afford such gifts), don’t place your children in the middle of any arguments. If money is a challenge for you this season, consider giving special gifts of your time and making the holidays less materialistic.

Talk to your children about their expectations for the holidays—both good and bad. If possible, include your children in the planning. At the very least, review the plan with your kids ahead of time. If your children are traveling during the holidays (especially if they are traveling alone), review all their travel plans with them. Acknowledge and alleviate any of their fears and anxieties regarding their holiday travels.

#4: Honor Traditions, But Keep It Simple

It’s okay to scale down and simplify your holiday celebrations. Continue to use old family traditions if they still work for your family but also consider creating new traditions that might have more meaning for your family’s current situation.

Check out our blog on Thanksgiving Hacks, which all work well for Christmas and New Year’s as well. There are simple things you can do to make the holidays special without causing more chaos for yourself.

You could also consider spreading out your holiday celebrations and traditions. You don’t have to do everything on one “big day”—you could plan for special moments throughout the months of November and December.  Don’t one small thing each week may be all you can mentally handle this year, and that’s okay.

#5: Stay Positive

If your children are with their other parent for the holidays, don’t send them off with a display of sadness, disappointment or anger. It will only add to everyone’s pain if they leave feeling guilty or conflicted. Encourage your children to enjoy themselves and tell them you’ll be looking forward to seeing them when they return to you.

Maybe this is your first holiday season without your partner—whether by choice or by unexpected circumstances. It’s perfectly acceptable to feel the grief of your loss, but it is also good for you and your children to not give up on hope for your future. If you need prayer, our prayer hotline offers you the opportunity to share your request with someone directly at 855-822-PRAY or you can fill out our prayer form on our website. We believe God is at work in your situation and He has the power to radically change your life for the better.

Single Mom, you are a treasure!  At Shepherd’s Village, we are here to encourage you and your children as you walk through this holiday season and beyond. 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11