The 10 Things Single Moms Need to Know Around the Holidays
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” At least, that’s what the Christmas songs tell us. And it’s what we want more than anything for our kids to have. But sometimes, the pressure of creating the perfect holiday can get to be a bit too much, especially when you’re doing it all on your own. And especially if this is the first year you’ve found yourself in that position.
So here’s what you need to remember if you’re a single mom trying desperately to create some perfect holiday memories for your kid(s).
You are the magic maker.
We don’t say that to put more pressure on you. We say it because it’s true. Kids see magic in everything over the holiday season, and more often than not, you’re the one creating that magic. Whether it be an elf you remember to move a few times a week or the cookies you bake together every year—you, mama are the maker of the holiday magic. And while your kids may not recognize or acknowledge that today, they will one day. In fact, it will be the traditions you kept going that they eventually try to recreate for their own kids. And there’s nothing more magical than that.
Hallmark has your back.
Yes, Hallmark holiday movies are formulaic, predictable, and so full of cheese. But you know what? Whether you’re just recently single or you’ve been going it alone for a while, those cheesy holiday movies, with their perfect happy endings, are a guaranteed recipe for improving your mood this time of year. They’re sure to get you in the spirit, and they might even remind you that the possibility of love is not over. Just don’t blame us if you suddenly start seeing your office nemesis in a different light.
The comparisons are a waste of time.
It’s easy to look at the holiday cards and assume everyone else has a perfect life. The perfect marriage, perfect house, perfect kids; everything you may feel like you’re struggling to achieve. But the thing is, you never know what’s going on behind closed doors. Holiday cards are a highlight reel of someone else’s life. They don’t mean anything besides the fact that a family was able to get a few nice photos throughout the year. It’s important to remember that those perfect smiles are not an indication that everyone else is doing this whole life and parenting thing better than you are. They’re not. We promise.
You’ve earned the cookies.
If Santa can eat cookies from every home around the world in one night, you can certainly enjoy the ones offered to you throughout December. Stop worrying about calories and sugar counts and think of those cookies instead as the extra fuel you need to get everything on your holiday to-do list done.
Family can be made.
If you’re new to this single mom thing, it’s possible you’re not just mourning the loss of your relationship this year, you’re also mourning the loss of an extended family on you exes’ side. It can be hard to navigate the holidays when you’ve spent years prior with the same people you no longer really talk to. But family, and new traditions, can be made. If you don’t have anyone close nearby, look to your friends, or even your co-workers and neighbors, who may also be without extended family this holiday season. Talk about doing something together, creating some traditions with those in your area who don’t yet have traditions of their own.
Or maybe you routinely celebrate with a big family nearby. If that’s the case, consider inviting someone new this year. Someone who may not have anywhere else to go, and could benefit from being welcomed into your family this holiday season. There is definitely something to be said for making someone else’s holiday a little brighter.
High school students are on break too.
Finding affordable childcare is hard enough in the summer months. But when it comes to those two weeks of no school during winter break, plenty of parents panic over what to do with their kids.
Here’s a little secret, though: Your local high school is on break too. And those kids will often charge you a fraction of what you’d pay for childcare anywhere else—they’re excited for something to do during their time off, and to make a little extra money before they return to school.
Ask around the neighborhood for recommendations, and make sure you interview anyone you’re considering hiring. You may even want to have a trial run for a few hours one night before break. A responsible and motivated high schooler can make an excellent babysitter—one your kids are actually excited to spend time with—without you having to empty your bank account in the process.
It will be the traditions you kept going that they eventually try to recreate for their own kids. And there’s nothing more magical than that.
Eggnog makes wrapping presents more fun.
Wrapping presents by yourself is a chore, particularly if you have more than one kid to wrap for. So make a night of it. Invite a girlfriend over who also has some wrapping to do, put on one of those cheesy holiday movies, pour yourself some eggnog, and don’t worry about perfect edges. Try to enjoy yourself by turning this holiday to-do into some of that me-time you’ve been craving.
Your ex is missing out.
Some women are lucky enough to have parenting partners who still step up, even after the split is finalized. Others have exes who disappear as soon as the papers are signed. If your ex falls into the latter category, just know that they’re the one missing out. You get to experience all these holiday memories alongside your kid(s), and they don’t get any of it. None of the joy, none of the moments of pride, excitement or happy faces.
You can make at least one kid-free event (and you should).
Look, we know finding (and paying for) babysitters can be tough. Especially this time of year. But you deserve to enjoy at least one holiday event child-free. Whether it be the office Christmas party or a girl’s night out, hit up that high school babysitter of yours, or try to arrange a kid swap with your neighbor. You take their kids one night and they take yours another. Just find a way, whatever it takes, and allow yourself this opportunity to get into the holiday spirit with other adults. Think of it as a gift you give to yourself.
Your kids will remember.
It’s not the number of presents under the tree or the dollar value of each of the items they receive, that your kids will retain memories of. No, it’s the time you spent with them, the memories you make, and the effort you put into creating the magic, even on a budget, that they’ll hold onto well into their adult years. Even if it doesn’t seem like they recognize all of that today, they absolutely will one day. They’ll remember that you are the one who stepped up, who sacrificed, and who worked hard to give them the most wonderful time of the year.
*If you haven’t had a chance yet, head over to MAED Holiday for more of MAED’s holiday goodness!!