If you are newly separated or divorced the thought of Christmas can be really hard, you may even be dreading it. Here are some positive ideas to help you survive the festive season as a single parent
Surround yourself with family and friends
Go with the old adage “The more the merrier!” and try and make plans to spend time with family and friends. They will be a great support to you if you are on your own, particularly if this is your first Christmas as a single dad – people are a great distraction. It may be that you have the children with you and this is their first Christmas as a separated family – family and friends are bound to get on board to instil some fun and festivity. Don’t worry if you have a down moment, just go with the flow as best you can and remember that you are surrounded by people who love and care about you.
Make new family traditions
Traditions are very emotive and can cause you (and your children) unnecessary upset – you can’t recreate what has been lost and so don’t try, take the opportunity to create new traditions. It doesn’t mean that you should avoid that visit to sit on Santa’s knee (the kids of course, not you!), or that you shouldn’t go and see your local Christmas lights switched on – just do it differently, tag on something or someone else to make the occasion different and special. If you haven’t done it before why not get the kids to make some paper chains, make the lounge look festive and have a Christmas Movie Night. Let your imagination run wild and have fun!
Don’t feel guilty
This is a hard one but don’t beat yourself up if your children end up going between you and your ex on Christmas day. It may be that due to logistical issues the children have to miss out seeing one parent altogether. It is easy to try and sell it to them that they will have two Christmases, this may work to some degree, but don’t be surprised if you don’t get the positive response that you’d hoped for. They may be confused about how that would work. If you have an amicable relationship with your ex, then all get together and plan the day in advance to suit everyone. Whether or not you are able to do this the key is to reassure them [and you], that it will still be a special day and that they won’t miss out. You can’t change what has happened so let the guilt go and plan positively.
If you can, it’s important that you and your ex work together on all things surrounding the festive season from attending school plays and events, to what you do on the big day – don’t leave the children guessing, that will only breed insecurities.
Don’t compete with each other for the biggest and best presents – that’s not going to work for the children or your bank balance. If you have an amicable relationship compile a kids Christmas list between you, then divide and conquer – there’s nothing worse for the kids than getting duplicate presents (unless that’s what they want of course!). The best thing that you can give them is your time, reassurance and love – with some careful planning you can make it enjoyable for all concerned.
If you can’t be with your children at Christmas then why not keep yourself occupied with some charity work. Your local church may well be hosting a Christmas lunch for the elderly who don’t have any family. There is nothing like helping those less fortunate than yourself to build self esteem and make you feel better about your own circumstances – it can be very rewarding. Why not check out this website or search on the internet for something in your area: https://communitychristmas.org.uk/