Surviving Christmas as a single parent

Christmas inherently brings with it a unique set of seasonal pressures for any parent; as we battle the high streets to track down perfect presents, slave over a delicious roast dinner and decorate our home to such an extent that it resembles nothing short of a decadent Winter Wonderland! Of course, this is all in the hope that we will fulfil the iconic, faultless stereotype surrounding Christmas day.

However, the intense burden of responsibility with regards to curating such an event for our children, certainly proves to be testing for even the most organised of individuals. Although, for single parents, additional difficulties also inevitably materialise; as those stresses which would ideally be shared fall solely into the laps of one anxiety-stricken parent.

Unsurprisingly, MIND have reported that 76% of people experience difficulty sleeping at Christmas, whilst 60% confess to suffering from panic attacks. Of the reasons attributed to this unfortunate occurrence, many suggested that Christmas-related stress played a prominent role. This highlights the importance in alleviating the heightened stress single-parents typically find themselves faced with during this festive period, helping them to feel better supported and more able to find joy in the day themselves.

To help single parents reduce stress this Christmas, Ben Edwards, a trained life coach and motivational speaker, outlines several recommendations for making the festive season a worry-free occasion:

1. Make exciting arrangements & accept help

For single parents, an indisputable struggle surrounding the festive period is feeling alone—particularly if your circumstances have only recently changed—as the responsibility to create a seamlessly happy day for your children can no longer be shared with a partner.

To ease this pressure, contact friends and family; organise visits or trips to make the day more exciting for all of you. Spending quality time with loved ones will allow you to relax yourself and provides an opportunity for adult conversation and overdue catch ups.

Similarly, accept any help that may be generously offered. If your friends and family wish to be there for you over the festive period, let them; this will strengthen your sense of connectedness as we welcome the New Year and will prevent you from feeling isolated.

2. Abandon expectations

Christmas celebrations inevitably vary vastly between families; the possibilities with regards to how this day can be enjoyed are endless, so do not feel pressured to adhere with stereotypes which no longer suit your family dynamic.

If you don’t have the time or energy to spend hours cooking a roast dinner and would rather—deservedly—enjoy the days’ merriment, indulge in a takeaway or your children’s favourite meal, even if it’s ice cream!

Similarly, don’t fear change; being open to new things allows you to start new traditions which will strengthen the different, special bond with your children. Being unable to provide a mountain of gifts does not spell disaster; instead this can be an invaluable grounding lesson. Having to go back to basics might just prove to be a blessing in disguise – reinstating what truly matters at Christmas!

3. Indulge in quality time for yourself

Allow yourself to enjoy the build-up to Christmas as well as the day itself. Ensure you start preparations early in order to prevent unnecessary last-minute panic – and take time to relax. Your children will be more inclined to enjoy the day, and your company, if you are not exhausted and stressed. When they are at school, indulge in a mince pie and hot chocolate with friends, and take advantage of online shopping!

Should you need advice, tips or simply someone to speak openly with, visit Ben’s website