• Carin Smolinski

Survival tips for single parents at Christmas

These are some things that I've learned over the last 10 years of raising my boys independently. I'm hoping that my mistakes can help you avoid the same pitfalls and that my ideas can help you through and maybe make your holidays a little brighter!

Tip 1. Don't overcompensate with presents!!! As you can see here, it took me awhile to figure this one out. I somehow felt that if I got them everything their heart desired and more that it would make up for the struggles of their parents not being together. I also secretly wanted to out do their father. Not very mature right? Nope. This year we have narrowed down to something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read, and experience, something handmade and we've requested only one thing and stockings from Santa and his elves.

Tip 2. Christmas is NOT the 25th. It is whenever you are with your children. period. If you are not scheduled to be with your children on the morning of the 25th, it's hard. I won't lie, there have been years where I was in floods of tears, especially at the start. I put strategies in place. I make sure I'm not alone. It's ok to ask friends and family if you can celebrate with them. I pamper myself. Ideas can include doing something you love, going to the spa, watching your favourite movie all cozy in bed, go for a hike, volunteer, do something for others.

Tip 3. Start new traditions. Whether it's an experience based advent calendar, going out to chop down your own tree, going Christmas carolling, getting an elf on the shelf, going to the nutcracker or even simple things like you get to open one present (matching xmas pj's maybe) the night before, creating new traditions and memories helps to move forward positively.

Tip 4. Put on a brave face for your children. No matter how sad you are saying goodbye or while on the phone or facetime, it's important that they don't feel guilty that you are alone. You can cry in your cornflakes later!

Tip 5. This one was huge for me. I don't know about you, but I had very few photos of me with my children at important milestones. As odd as it may feel at first, I set up a tripod with my camera and I had a little remote in my hand so that I could have Christmas photos WITH my children.

Tip 6.

Try to not be a superhero.... Let shit go. I'm not sure what we've eaten on Christmas, but it certainly wasn't a full roast dinner. Who cares if the house is a mess, the dishes aren't done, time is fleeting, get on the ground and play with your children, curl up and read your books together, and know that your best is good enough. All they want is a you. The old adage that presence is present enough really rings true (except presents sure can be fun too!) Which brings me to my last tip...

Make sure there are presents under the tree for you! I like to trick myself and wrap them early so I forget what is in them so it's a little surprise! You deserve it!

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