Avoiding Stress at Christmas
Whether it’s money worries, problems with your ex-partner or your own emotional rollercoaster, Christmas can be a stressful time when you are parenting on your own. Here are some stress-busting tips that we have found to help through the festive season.
I can’t afford it
- Make a budget and stick to it, for presents and food.
- Tell yourself that it is not worth being in debt for the rest of the year just because of one day.
- Consider home-made gifts and activities. See our Creative Christmas on a Budget.
- If children are small you can buy lots of cheap things at charity shops/jumble sales/school fayres.
- If children are older, they are old enough to understand that money is short.
- Send greetings by email or social media.
- Make cards with your children. Stencils or stamps are quick and easy.
- Plan in advance what you want to do at Christmas so you don't have an expensive last-minute rush.
The big day
- Think about what you find stressful about Christmas Day. Can friends help? If you hate entertaining, see if you can get a friend to invite your guests and children round to give you some space. Or maybe a friend can help cook while you entertain their family?
- If it is the cooking, get as much ready as you can the day before. You can even cook the meat in advance and re-heat it if necessary.
- If it is the noise and mess, make sure you all go out for a walk at some stage, for you to clear your head and the children to burn off some energy!
- If it is other people, that’s more difficult. Take short breaks and invent 'jobs to do' which get you out of the room. You're probably not the only one who needs space! Practise some deep breathing and think of a mantra to repeat to yourself. Still go out for a walk; it diffuses tension... and resolve NOT to have stressful company next year.
It's not my turn to have Christmas with my children
- Children will be delighted with two celebrations (if relations are good to reasonable). Your 'Christmas' can be any day you want it to be.
- Make the most of any child-free time to do things YOU want. Eat what you like, watch your favourite movie, pamper yourself, read Top tips for things to do on your child-free days.
- If you have a considerable period on your own, consider volunteering to help people in need (see below).
My children won't see their other parent at all this Christmas
- Remind them, regardless of how you feel, that you KNOW that their mum/dad will be thinking of them (Unless he/she is completely heartless, this will be the truth)
- Listen and Acknowledge their emotions, if they are sad, angry or feeling hurt
- Reassure your child that you intend to spend every single Christmas with them and that you feel so lucky to have them all to yourself
- Make sure you get some “me” time, even if it is brief. Encourage younger children to play Sleeping Lions after lunch, and older ones to 'have a bit of time to themselves'
I feel so sad that things have changed
- Focus on the things that are better this year: you can be in charge of how you celebrate, you don’t have to tolerate so many relatives and this is the start of a whole new phase of your life.
- Life does change, for all of us. Feel proud of yourself for the way you are coping with those changes.
- In what ways can you spoil yourself? Will the budget stretch to a small gift for yourself? Or how about looking on the internet for some of your favourite Christmas tracks? (see below)
- Visit Top Tips for a Perfect Single Parent's Christmas Day
- Stick with what you can afford, but give yourself a little treat.
- Children remember the fun they had, not the gift they received.
- Use time they have with the other parent to have a well-deserved break and do something you enjoy
Useful Organisations and Links
- For emotional support 24 hours a day/7 days a week call the Samaritans on 08457 909090
- Volunteering nationwide
- Christmas music
- Christmas sing-along songbook
- Christmas games to play with your family, some of these games say you need 4 people or more, we disagree, you can play most of these with just you and one child!
- Christmas Games from the North Pole!