Surviving Christmas as a single parent

December 15, 2016 Published by

Christmas preparations can be a daunting prospect for any parent, with so much to get bought, wrapped, planned and cooked. But this can be particularly scary if you are arranging things on your own as a single parent, especially if it’s the first time since a break up.

We have chatted to lots of single parents and put together some helpful tips to make the festivities enjoyable and less stressful for you all as a family.


Plan, Plan, Plan

Getting the preparations underway early will help to reduce stress, eliminate last-minute panics and also spread the cost. Avoid doing your shopping on Christmas Eve (there won’t be much left on the shelves anyway), get your decorations up early, and you can even prepare the veg and then freeze it so that you aren’t left peeling parsnips at 1am on Christmas day.

Young Child opening up Christmas Present

Organise early

Talk to your ex-partner and agree on how you will split the childcare, if at all, over the festive period as early as possible. This will help to avoid disappointment later down the line if certain parties have made assumptions, and will also allow you to explain what will happen to your children, so that they are comfortable with the plans. If your children are old enough try and include them in the plans so they don’t feel like they’re being passed around like a parcel.

Photo Credit: more presents! by MissMessie licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0


It’s only one day

It can be really difficult to accept that there may be periods of Christmas when your children won’t be with you, but try to remain positive and plan lots of festivities for the days when you will have them with you instead. You can open presents and eat roast turkey on Boxing Day too and the chances are, the children will love the thought of two Christmas Days. You can use the time that you are not with your children to volunteer and help people less fortunate than yourself. This can really put things into perspective and put a positive slant on an otherwise difficult time – it also helps keep you busy and stops you over-thinking about your own situation.


Create new traditions

If your family had traditions that you all did together, it can be painful to try and continue these if one person is missing. So if you don’t want to continue with old traditions, make new ones and have fun planning them with the children and other family members.


Surround yourself

If you are lucky enough to have a supportive family nearby, make sure you spend lots of time with them and let them help with childcare while you get things ready. If your family aren’t around, search for other single parents in your area. There are often groups on social media where you can chat etc. The chances are, there is someone else in a similar situation just around the corner and you can help each other.

Photo credit: family by Helgi Halldórsson licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0


Make plans

Make sure you find time for yourself too. Don’t sit at home on your own when your  children are with their other parent, plan to do things you love to do, whether that’s nights out with friends, film nights, family meals, find things to look forward to for yourself and take time for you. A long hot soak in the bath with a good book is a luxury you probably haven’t had since becoming a parent, so enjoy it.

Photo credit: Family Christmas Party by Patrick CC BY-NC 2.0 

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This post was written by Dr Amanda Gummer

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