Happy holidays don’t have to be picture-perfect. Even if you’re a single parent, you can make your child’s holidays sparkle without morphing into either Father Christmas or Mother Teresa.
Start with thanksgiving.
Super-glue your attention to the good things in your life. Be grateful for even little things that go right. Thank people who are nice to you. Let thankfulness well up within you as you see your child’s smile or watch the snow sparkle. Resist obsessing about the bad things that happen, as if they define your entire life. Yes, they are part of the season you’re going through right now. But change is as natural as winter storms followed by spring. And change will come.
Meanwhile, before the changes come, while the cold winter wind is blowing through your life, how can you enjoy your holidays as things are right now?
Try this short can-do list, collected from parents who have walked this road before you.
Kids come first.
Your child is as vulnerable as a little seedling in the snow. See that his needs are your top priority. You’re his care-giver. So give careful thought to what will be best for your child during the holidays. For example:
- Create a calm and consistent schedule. Routines—especially routine bedtimes—will help him survive this ramped-up, emotion-packed season. Make crazy days and late nights the exceptions, not the norm.
- Create and defend a no-conflict zone around your child. If an argument is brewing, be calm and firm as you tell the other person, “Let’s discuss this quietly in the other room” or “Call me later so we can discuss this without disrupting [your child’s] fun day.” Grab your own tongue if you’re the one who’s tempted to start a fight in the no-conflict zone.
You matter, too.
Parenting is hard work, especially if you’re doing it alone. Set aside some time during the holidays to do things that help you de-stress and feel rejuvenated. Can you trade babysitting with a friend? Or reserve nap-time for “me-time?” Then do a craft, drink hot chocolate and watch a TV show, journal, or go for a walk (if you have a babysitter) . . . whatever soothes your spirit and fills you back up. You need to re-charge so you can go on giving.
Problem people need to win sometimes.
Crazy as it may sound, giving in now and then can ease tensions and create a win-win situation. Is your child’s other parent making demands? Listen carefully—are there ways you can give at least part of what he or she wants, without compromising your child’s safety or well-being? You may be surprised how much the other person can bend once you show you can be flexible, too.
Build a support network.
Successful parents aren’t Lone Rangers. They have friends who share the load, and they have positive role models for inspiration and mentoring. What supporters do you have? Need more? The holidays are a great time to explore faith communities in your area, as churches and organizations expect new faces to come and go at their special services and events. Try some out.
Don’t forget that Choices Pregnancy Center exists to help parents beyond birth as well. Need some parenting support? Stop in at Choices and request a lesson or two on topics that interest you. You can earn some Baby Bucks to put toward gifts for your child (or yourself!) from our Baby Buck Boutique.
Try these ideas, and watch what happens to your holidays. They may turn out brighter than you ever imagined!
What are some of the everyday things you are thankful for? How did being grateful for them make your holidays brighter? Share your thoughts in the comments below.