While some people start the festive season as soon as Halloween is over, digging out the Christmas CD’s and putting up the fairy lights, others find it to be their most stressful and lonely time of year – be it due to having to finance and manage it all alone, or maybe because the children will be with your ex on Christmas day and your heart is already aching or even because it is just you and your child, and you would love to have a house full… So, we have pulled a few hints and tips together to help boost your festive spirit ?
No-one to share the expense
- Savings plan
Get organised and start saving early in the year so that the expenses don’t end up out of control. Pull together a list of all the expense areas (food, drink, presents, decorations etc) and work out how much you anticipate spending on each area. Total it all up and then work out how many months/ weeks you have before Christmas – this will then allow you to see how much money you need to put away each month/ week to meet your Christmas spending needs!
- Allocate some money to the kids
Children love to be involved, so give them a little bit of responsibility and allocate them some money through the year so that they can buy each other, and you, a Christmas gift of their choosing (it’s up to you if you give them a list to work off!).
- Rewards cards
Almost all shops, and certainly all supermarkets, have their own rewards cards. Have your rewards cards on you at all times when shopping and make sure that you use them! I swear by my Tesco Clubcard, Nectar card and Boots Advantage card and I try to make the most of the bonus points offers when they are on. I will be able to get many of my Christmas gifts from these shops or online and they won’t cost me a penny!!
- Don’t be afraid to say
Don’t be embarrassed to tell friends and family that you’re not in a position to buy for them because you’re on a budget and want to be able to get your children what they really want for Christmas – people will understand. Also, if friends/ family are wanting to buy for your children, don’t be afraid to give them an idea of what they would like so that they don’t waste their money, there is less pressure on you to get everything on “the list” and the kids are happy! ?
- Be realistic
There is often an inane guilt that comes with being a single parent and you can feel the need to buy your children absolutely everything on their 2-sided A4 Christmas list! Be realistic with spending over the festive period. Explain to the children that there isn’t an endless pot of money and manage their expectations. Older children will generally understand, and it is easy to buy younger children non-branded toys that are identical to the big brand names, but without the big brand price tag.
My children are with their dad on Christmas day for the first time
- Set-up a video call
If you want to be able to see your kids and wish them a Merry Christmas, why don’t you arrange to Facetime, Skype or Video call using Facebook Messenger at a time that will suit your ex? If you are not on great terms, try to explain how upset you feel that you won’t be with the children and that you don’t want to eat into their day, but you would really appreciate just seeing them for 5 minutes so that they can show you their presents and you can share in their excitement. Make sure to come across as happy whilst on the call with your children, even if you are not – I’m sure that the last thing you would want to create is the feeling of guilt that children can often have when leaving one parent out.
Probably something that you would never have considered and that is completely different to anything you have done before, but why not? If you feel that all you will be doing is moping around and pining for the kids on Christmas Day – why don’t you head out and keep yourself busy whilst helping the less fortunate? You will feel so rewarded for giving something back and what a great thing to be able to do and talk to the kids about when they get home!
- Invite yourself to family or friends
I don’t think that anyone would want to see you spending Christmas day on your own. Speak to your family or friends and explain the situation. Tell them that you don’t want to intrude on their family time, but you would love to be able to pop in for a few hours. Maybe you could spend a couple of hours each at a few friends or family members houses which will take up most of the day! If you don’t ask, you won’t know the answer! The worst that can happen is that they say “no”, if this happens, be gracious and try not to be offended (even though you may feel upset by it).
- Create a new tradition
So, you don’t see the point in cooking a turkey and all the trimmings just for you with leftovers for days? Then don’t! Who says you have to have turkey anyway? It’s your Christmas so have your favourite meal, whether that’s a curry, lasagne or steak pie – have whatever you want! Even better, get a take away so that you don’t have to do any preparation and have minimal washing up! Result ?
It’s just me and the kids
- Create new traditions
Christmas is what you make it, not what the media or others say. Don’t feel pressured to do things that your friends do or what is typical or “expected”. Make your own traditions – traditions that work for you and your family. Relax, be flexible and enjoy the quality time just you and your children.
- Involve the kids in the planning
Find out what they would like to do for Christmas well in advance and allocate jobs to them accordingly. Give them some money to buy you a present so that you have a surprise to open (might be worth providing some guidelines…!). Maybe the children would prefer to go out to a restaurant for Christmas lunch rather than staying home all day? That way it mixes things up a bit and when you get home, stuffed full of lovely food and drink (go somewhere local and book a taxi or walk), you can all get into your pyjama’s and relax in front of a Christmas movie.
- Get together
Do you know other single parent families who are in the same boat at Christmas? Why don’t you club together for Christmas lunch and create a new tradition of alternating between houses each year? If the children are all around the same age, they will have a whale of a time playing with each other’s new toys and gifts and you will get adult company and be able to relax a little knowing that you can share the “entertaining”! Be sure to arrange something like this well in advance or you could find they already have plans.
- To me, from me
A little tradition I have been doing for myself for a few years – I buy myself a little something, wrap it up and pop it under the tree with all the other gifts! ? I always act surprised when opening it!
- Go on holiday over Christmas
Many single parent families find that getting away from the norm is exactly what works best for them. Whether you decide on a week in the sun in Tenerife, getting the festive feeling on a ski trip to Andorra or if you prefer to stay closer to home and enjoy a traditional Christmas lunch on a short break in the UK a change in scenery could be just the thing. Melon Holidays will have Christmas 2018 holidays on sale by next summer. ? ⛷️