I think the hardest part of being a single mum for me is Christmas. I can cope with most things that are thrown at me throughout the year and I am getting a dab hand at DIY. But Christmas is different.
When I first separated from my children’s father we decided straight away not to get into the ‘take turns’ scenario over the Christmas period. We at least agreed that the most important thing was that the children enjoyed their Christmas. Now, this all sounds very good and grown up but it does mean I spend the most of Christmas on my own.
The way we do it is that we let the children decide where they want to be. Now the choices are obviously here with me or at their father’s. I not being close to my family has never spent an adult Christmas with my parents ( and nor do I want to start to thank you very much), he, on the other hand, has brothers and sisters who all have children and they all get together ‘Walton’ style for a massive Christmas day. Now in a kids mind, the choice between two very different Christmases is easily worked out by where you’re more likely to have fun and get more presents. Yep, you guessed it, with their father. So every Christmas morning off they go to have fun, laughter and presents to return 48 hours later.
Being the good unselfish mother I am, I manage to do a good act of pretending that I love spending Christmas day on my own. We do make more of a deal out of Christmas Eve and open half our presents in the evening and then a few Christmas morning before they go. The first few years were easy as loved the novelty of eating cheese on toast in my pyjamas and watching all the Christmas films. I would have a glass of champagne and a bath with as many bubbles as I could fit in. The glass of champagne would turn into a bottle and then be in bed asleep by tea time. It was easy.
But then the novelty slowly died and the champagne too when I decided to go healthy and not drink alcohol. A couple of the years have been really tough and now it gets difficult as my daughter looks at me knowing that I will be spending Christmas on my own. She is torn to go with the family or stay with me, so for her sake, the actress in me is now on Oscar level. I’m going for all out this year and have my acceptance speech for my Oscar award all planned.
In my 8 years of single mum Christmases I can recommend the following:
- Although nice to have a drink, don’t drink too much if there is any hint it will make you sad. Slurring Merry Christmas sarcastically at the TV with a bottle in hand really isn’t that sophisticated.
- Instead of the traditional Christmas dinner for one (Iceland and Tesco do them if you have your heart set on it) do something different. My favorite was salmon bagels followed by strawberries and cream. You will also be amazed how many people actually envy you.
- If you are eying up the sofa and remote control for the day, treat yourself to new pjs .
- Take yourself out for a walk. I would walk past houses and bet how many arguments I would spot. (Grass is not always greener and the picture card image of Christmas we presume everyone else is having sadly isn’t so).
- Lastly, if you can manage it, buy yourself a pressie to put under the tree. I learned this one several years in after realizing I would not get a present any other way.
Update – Wow time had flown. Its now 9 years on since I wrote this post and as we are approaching another Christmas I thought I would update this post with anything else I have learned.
I think the only things I can add after a total of 17 Christmases without them here on Christmas Day are :
- Keep everything in perspective as it is one day. You can, of course, make it a week-long celebration or whatever fits with you.
- As time goes on family dynamics and circumstances change so be flexible. New partners with maybe their children join the family as too some leave. Everyone wants the unattainable ‘Perfect Christmas ‘ and with that, everyone’s perception of perfect is different too. Communicate, negotiate and compromise.
- Don’t use your children as bate, blackmail or anything else nasty. You are the grown up, they didn’t ask to be in the situation they are in and they probably don’t like it no matter how much you try to sell it to them with the two Christmases thing.
- Don’t think its all doom and gloom and how life will be forevermore. I am spending Christmas Day with one of my children this year and with a wonderful man and I am stupidly excited about it all. Things can and do change.