First Holiday as a Single Mom: What to Expect and What You Can Control

by | Nov 16, 2022

If this will be your first holiday as a single mom, anticipating what you can expect – and understanding what you can control – can really help ease the stress of the holiday season.

We are led to believe that the holiday season is supposed to be merry and bright, but as a single mom, the bright lights can reveal a hard truth. And even for the more seasoned single moms, the nostalgia of the holidays can make it feel like you’re experiencing it for the first time all over again – alone.

Don’t become a Grinch! Preparing yourself and your kids for a few shifts in your family traditions can help ensure that the upcoming holiday season goes as smoothly as possible, and is less stressful for all.

Loneliness can hit hard as a single mom – Make the most of your alone time

Forget about all the times you complained about needing just a minute to yourself! When every Netflix holiday special is geared toward finding love, and every ad features a smiling, large family, an empty house can feel especially hollow on those days when your ex has the kids. Shared custody can be draining for all parties involved. And for single moms, sharing holidays can feel like you’re missing out on the big moments.

If you find yourself missing your kids, or missing having someone special in your life, take it as a sign to enjoy your alone time. If the house is empty, knock some things off that list. Holiday shopping? Done. Wrapping? Done. That book you’ve been wanting to read? Still working on it. Make some cookies, do something crafty, or indulge in an at-home facial.

This is time just for you!

Catch up on that much-needed sleep. Get all your social media scrolling in. Listen to your favorite music from your youth. The truth is that once mama is refreshed and recharged, that’s when the real magic is made!

Expectations can be overwhelming at holiday time – It’s okay to take the easy way out

Regardless of the culture, the expectations that come with any holiday can be overwhelming. Between juggling decorations, family events, and top gifts of the year– not to mention the pressure to create lasting memories for your child– the upcoming holiday season can loom like a dark cloud.

Especially if you’re doing it alone.

For a more manageable holiday season, manage your own expectations. This can be difficult, since it may require you to let go of old traditions in order to start new ones.

As a single mom, setting boundaries is important, especially in your relationship with yourself. Only sign up for what you can handle, and be gentle and honest. Do you really need a live tree to make it perfect? How can a single mom travel with a baby? Pushing your sanity– and your budget– will only cause negative feelings to fester. A smaller or pre-cut tree will shine just as brightly. And learning to be comfortable taking up space as a single mom, even when traveling alone with kids, can be just as important as learning to say “no” when you’ve reached your capacity for holiday joy.

There will be difficult moments as a single mom – Embrace the hard feelings

Some single moms will tell you that the first holiday alone is the hardest. Some might even tell you that it doesn’t get any easier. The reality is that there will be difficult moments, days, or even weeks. These waves of sadness work much like grief, coming out of nowhere and making it hard to function.

Allow yourself to grieve!

Embrace the hard feelings. If you’re feeling vulnerable, don’t tell yourself to toughen up! Instead, feel your feelings, even the ones that can make you cry. Consider it to be growing pains.

It can be tempting to rely on social media for distraction or validation. You might be tempted to call your ex. While these relationships can make you feel connected for a moment, they can serve the opposite purpose, too. Instead of distracting yourself, embrace the hard moments. If you can, talk to a trusted friend or family member. Reach out to a licensed therapist. Start journaling or vlogging to record your progress.

Scheduling can get hectic – But you can pick the special day

If you’re sharing custody over the holidays, scheduling can get chaotic. Things don’t always work out according to plan, and for single moms, it’s easy to feel like an afterthought. The holidays might seem like the right time to stamp your feet and assert your rights, but it rarely is.

Even if the holiday schedule feels out of your control, remember that you can make ANY day THE special day.

If your kids are with their dad this Christmas, celebrate with them when you have them again. This time around, you get creative liberty! Get crafty in the kitchen together with a new recipe, snuggle up with a classic movie and some popcorn, and start new traditions. By creating your own traditions with your kids, you give them something to look forward to at mom’s house each year.

Learn that it takes a village – Make connections in your community

Making connections as a single mom can be hard. Like, really hard. And while you might be doing it alone, you’d be surprised how many women are behind you. There are 15 million single moms in the United States, a 300% increase from just sixty years ago, and they are all too familiar with the issues that come along with it. The lack of paid leave, affordable childcare, or flexible work opportunities may make it nearly impossible for you to spend time with your kids while providing for them.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

There are community resources and assistance programs that can help with groceries or gifts. If you’re struggling, call a friend or loved one or schedule a catch-up through Zoom. Join a mom group. The holidays can be hard for a lot of people, but the connections you make now will help to build up your support system for each holiday season to come.

Professional help for single moms in the Columbia, SC area – Make a therapy appointment

If you or someone you know is struggling through the holidays, we are located in Columbia, SC and we can help. We also help patients virtually around the country! Our approach at New Hope Counseling and Wellness Center is to treat the individual and not the condition. If you or someone you know needs help with anxiety or depression, please know that treatment is available.

  • Trust that there is HOPE for you through counseling and therapy.
  • Therapy could benefit you in amazing ways.
  • Through counseling and therapy, we will work together to help you to develop a new understanding and connection to your feelings, allowing you to experience happiness.

Our team of specialists works with teens, adults, and families. We will develop a personalized mental health treatment plan for you or your loved one. Contact us today. You are not alone.

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