Since becoming a single mother, I’ve pretty much successfully navigated the ups and downs, and even developed skills I never knew I had.
I can kick a footy around the park; I can assemble an IKEA bunk with ease; and I have mastered the art of the embarrassing dad joke even though I am a mum. But around the festive season, being a mum presents several unique challenges.
Here’s how you can create a beautiful and memorable Christmas, when funds are tights and the only father around is a beared man goes by the name of Father Christmas.
- Focus on the family
Everywhere you look there are images of families gathered around the Christmas table, laden with festive dishes, with Dad at the head, carving up that Christmas turkey. It’s enough to make those in non-nuclear families feel inadequate, especially if it’s just the two of you.
Thing is, most of us do have family and friends, even if we don’t see them all that often and even if we’re spending Christmas apart. Christmas is a great time to show kids that they are part of a large community of people, even if your family’s Christmas gatherings don’t quite resemble a Hallmark card.
Why not create a visual family tree? My kids and I made a huge family tree of photos in our loungeroom, using removable picture frame wall decals, so they can see all their cousins, aunties, uncles, Nonna, and know that they are part of a big, diverse family.
You might also want to create picture books about your extended family and friends, making your kids the centre of the tale.
- Give the gift they really want
OK, so the latest Frozen toy might not be in the budget for this year, but happily, you already have the gift your child wants the most – and it’s free. Christmas is a great time to hang out with your kids, because there is so much you can do together. From carols in the park, to baking and decorating a dodgy gingerbread house, you can create wonderful memories for you and your child.
- Schedule in some craft-ernoons
Christmas was made for the amateur crafters – and mums with small kids. Decorations and Christmas cards made by your kids will save you a bomb, while the pride experienced by the kids will boost their self-esteem. Parents be warned: decorations won’t look professional and mess will be made – but that’s great, let it go!
- Get out of the house
While Christmas is traditionally seen as the most expensive time of the year, it’s also when you can take your pick of a multitude of free events! Councils, shopping centres, community groups, and churches – they all have free activities for kids, fetes and carols by candlelight. Check the website of your local council for listings.
- Count your blessings
There are many, many studies that show that the happiest people on this planet are those who regularly express gratitude for the blessings in their lives. Christmas can be tough for single mothers – financially, emotionally and socially – but it’s amazing how all this can disappear in an instant when you take a moment to watch your sleeping child and think about the endless love and joy you bring into each others’ lives.