Christmas is a time of joy and excitement, a time for families to come together and enjoy. But let's be honest, for single parents, Christmas can be financially and emotionally stressful. Often children can be anxious leading up to the day, knowing that they will be away from one of their parents who will be left all alone. For the parent it is equally distressing.
Christmas morning without your kids can be a sad time. Any fantasies about happy families crash into the harsh reality of loneliness, you have to accept that life sometimes gives you lemons instead of candy canes.
Every second year, my children spend Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with their father and his new family. At the beginning of my journey as a single mother, it was a heart-wrenching experience. I wept all morning as I'm sure lots of parents do. Christmas day highlighted the dissolution of my family life and my perceived failure.
Many single parents advise drinking on Christmas Eve, and sleeping it off the day after, when child-free. While this approach is effective for numbing pain, it's certainly not the most healthy way to deal with emotional issues. Over the years, I have learnt to deal with the 'tragedy' of Christmas morning childlessness by thinking positively and creating a good day for myself.
Set an intention to focus on the good things in your life on this special day.
Buy yourself a breakfast treat. Make coffee or tea and treat yourself to breakfast in bed.
Buy yourself a special christmas book, something you know you'll love, and save it for christmas morning. You'll be excited to know you have this gift awaiting.
Appreciate the fact that you can spend time in the kitchen creating your Christmas specialties without the constant begging of kids to "Play with me".
Spend some time really thinking about each child. Write each one a card, reminding them why you love them and what they add to your life.
Will you give and receive gifts today? Do you have good food to eat? A roof over your head? Even in bad times there are things to be grateful for.
If you really hate being alone, visit family or friends (This can be difficult so assess whether you're ready to join in another family's celebrations)
If it's too sad to be in the house alone, go for a walk in nature. Mindfully appreciate the birds, the flowers, the summer breeze.
On the alternate year, my family has Christmas lunch with the 4pm deadline looming, indicating that the day will soon be over. That deadline creates a different dynamic for the family, forcing us to enjoy the moments we have together.
This year there will be no wakeful children in my house on Christmas Eve, no excited screaming in my ear as the dawn breaks. I'll wake up in my own time. I'll shower without a child beating on the door, I won't listen to Christmas carols or watch kiddie TV shows with canned laughter.
For the first time, I'm looking forward to my solo Christmas. I am giving myself a break this year. By the time the kids return to me in the late afternoon, the celebration meal will be ready and our extended family will arrive. We can all relax, knowing that everyone will sleep in their own bed on Christmas night.
If you need support at Christmas, or any time, please contact: Lifeline 131 114