christmas_tree_with_fireplace.jpgYou would be forgiven if you felt daunted at the prospect of facing your first Christmas as a single parent.  Coping at Christmas can be difficult for a two parent family but as a one parent family – the coping falls onto one set of shoulders.

The challenges that represent itself to the single parent can feel overwhelming at times.  The good news is that over the years those feelings do become easier to manage as your resilience builds.

It’s emotionally draining.

The first Christmas isn’t just difficult for the parent.  It’s difficult for the child as they adjust to their lives in a one parent household.  This means that the resident parent finds the strength to provide the strength, reassurance, cuddles and comfort that the children need to get them through the change in their lives.  Upon doing so, it is common for the single parent to begin neglecting their own emotional needs.  It can be a time when anxiety and depression surface due to the personal neglect.

If you do have a good circle of friends or family.  This is the time when their support and encouragement can uplift you and give you that vital support so that you have enough to bestow upon your children. I’ve talked in previous blogs about filling up your own glass so that it isn’t running empty.  Online groups are also a great way of interacting and talking through your struggles while listening to others who are going through similar experiences.

Task Overload.

Christmas is a busy time for a family.  Christmas fayres, nativity plays, carol concerts, Christmas parties, cards to send out, presents to buy, visiting friends and family, work nights out and the list goes on.  All of this on top of the daily chores, daily living, paying bills, washing and cooking meals.  It is natural to feel over loaded and over burdened.  You are doing it alone, without the support of a significant other.

It’s time to be kind on yourself and remember that you are only human.  This Christmas will pass and again as the years go on they do get easier to manage as you become more prepared.

Dealing with the ex- partner.

It’s the first Christmas solo.  The chances are that emotions are still raw.  Problems are likely to arise with regards to the care of the children.  Who is having them on which days.  Maybe you have the upset of having to not see your children on the actual Christmas day or Boxing day.  In these cases, again – family and friends can offer great support to get you through the early days of surviving the time of year when it is all about a family.

Perhaps you are having the children all over the Christmas period and there is a feeling of bitterness that you are having to do all of the work while the other parent seemingly shirks out.  There are so many scenarios in these set ups that it would be difficult to list them all.

Financial Struggle.

You ask most people and they will state that money is the biggest worry at Christmas.  Two parent families have the worry but they also have two heads to work out a solution and they potentially have two incomes.  The single parent has one income and even then depending upon circumstances it might not be a full income due to having to work around family commitments and providing the element of caregiving.  Even when child support is provided it is not equal to that of a second income coming into the household.  It’s a struggle throughout the year to ensure the family is provided, kept warm, fed and clothed without the additional expense of Christmas.

Surviving that first Christmas is a huge hurdle and as the years do pass it does get easier.  Life does move on and you do build your support network and work out ways to make Christmas easier on yourself.

My biggest advice to anybody who is facing their first Christmas as a single parent is to get the help where you can.  Try and enjoy what you can and make the most of the situation.  If you can get a sitter, friends to help you wrap presents, friends to keep you company or help from family.  Take as much as you can.  If you can get a break do take it.  Find ways to nurture yourself so that you have the strength to provide the emotional support that your children need.

Do you have any advice on how you survive Christmas as a lone parent?

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