6 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Was a Single Mom at Christmas
To say that being a single mom is hard is kinda like saying that Oprah has some money: it’s the understatement of the century.
But if being a single mom is hella hard, doing it over the holiday season is nearly impossible.
Between caring for your kids’ physical and emotional needs and putting food on the table, it’s a miracle if you get through December at all. But now we have to make the holidays special and magical with stuff that we can't afford?? The pressure is mind-blowing,
I know this because I've been a single mom.
I know how it feels to have the pressure of the world on your shoulders while you struggle to get through every day as you solo-parent. You may be "fortunate" and have an ex-partner who steps up and helps out, but I sure didn’t. I became a single mom after my first husband seemed to forget that you don’t date other women while you’re married. I had no job, no money, and two toddlers.
Every single mom has a story. Mine was like this: welfare, renting an old farmhouse infested with mice (I have an unusual fear of mice to this day), an ex who didn’t pay child support or attention, and relying on the kindness of strangers to pay for my heat and groceries. Obviously there’s a lot of layers to this story, but that’s the gist of where I found myself about 22 years ago. I remember so clearly how depressed and hopeless I felt on the regular, but when the holidays rolled around? Yeesh. Talk about despair.
You see, I know what it feels like to marry the wrong guy and find yourself feeling guilty because you “screwed up” your kids’ lives.
How it feels to want so badly to keep the spirit of Christmas alive because day-to-day life sucks so badly that you want them to just have something special. I know how it feels to want something perfect for your kids because they live in such an imperfect world.
I was so lucky to have my family to help pull me out of my black hole. But for a few years, it felt like things would never get easier! So if you need to hear a little inspiration, here are a few things that I know to be true about being a single mom over the Christmas holidays:
Your Mind is Playing Tricks on You.
I know how it feels to be so stuck that you’re positive this is where you’ll stay. The thing is, where you are right now is just a situation. It’s not the end of your story; in fact you should consider this as the beginning. To your kids, you are everything and they’re watching you right now- it’s your job to prove to them that they can do and be anything, so start with yourself. Do whatever you need to do to reframe your thoughts about your situation: start meditating, use visualization exercises and daily affirmations. Believe that you’re better than the situation you’re in, because you are!
Start Some New Traditions.
I couldn’t afford tree decorations so we decorated pinecones and strung popcorn. It turned out to be kinda fun for all three of us!
This is a great time to take the focus of Christmas away from gifts and stress the importance of time together.
- Go tobogganing on Christmas Eve
- Make cookies for Santa and the neighbours
- Have a sing-a-long
- Start a tradition of visiting the elderly in a nursing home.
There are so many things you can do to celebrate with your kids that don’t cost a lot money. Instead of thinking about what you don’t have, start thinking about what you do have. Giving when you don’t really have anything makes you feel like a million bucks!
Christmas Isn't an Opportunity to Prove Yourself Worthy as a Mom With Materialistic Things.
When I was poor, it meant a lot more to me to be able to provide a magical Christmas for my kids because it made me feel better. When I say I was poor, I’m talking no money for heat or food poor…one step from being evicted poor. My family went out of their way to help out (especially at Christmastime) and I’m so thankful for their help. But now, 22 years later, I’m remarried with two more kids, a huge house and an Audi SUV and I couldn’t care less about giving my kids gifts. I have absolutely nothing to prove. I wish someone had told me all those years ago that I didn’t have to prove anything then, either.
But that mom-guilt runs deep, and there ain’t no mama feeling guiltier than the one who can’t afford the latest toys and Elf on the Shelf.
Just know that you can provide magic and love by giving your time and attention to your kids, and they need that more than a LOL doll.
Your Mental Health is the BEST Gift You Can Give Yourself.
At this time of the year stress, anxiety and depression can really get to you. When you have a cold, you drink extra fluids, take an asprin and rest. When you’re feeling overwhelmed by the season you need to take care of your brain. So reach out to a friend, your doctor, a family member or the suicide hotline. Your kids need you more than ever right now so you’ve got to put yourself first at least once every day.
If it’s really, really important to you to provide a big Christmas for your kids then reach out to community organizations that can hook you up! You may need the extra help this year but in the years to come you’ll probably be inspired to pay it forward when your situation changes.
It’s Just One Day Out of an Entire Year.
Out of 365 days this year, Christmas Day only counts for one measly day. Just one. So don’t let yourself lose sight of that. And don’t ever forget that you’re in a situation this year, not a life sentence.
Never Let Santa Give the BIG Presents
You have no idea what your situation is going to be like next year. You may not have any extra money to provide the hot-ticket items on your kids' lists. If they expect Santa to come through, you're going to feel guilty, ashamed and pressured.
Also, not everyone can afford laptops and game systems so if Santa brings one to your kid, other kids are going to wonder why he didn't bring them what they really wanted.
Wanna Talk, Mama?
If you’re looking to connect with other moms going through the same thing as you this year, hop over to Mamasoup and find your tribe- search the hashtag Single Moms at Christmas. The app is available on Android and Apple- free, anonymous and location-based so you can connect with mamas near and far.
Joanne Ilaqua - CEO of MamaSoup
Hey there, I’m Joanne.
I’ve spent about 20 years serving women as a nurse, doula and Lamaze educator. I have 4 kids and I know firsthand how lonely and isolating motherhood can be, so I created MamaSoup. I'm mostly known for my love of red wine, spontaneously singing and my confidence in being my true self on social media. When I’m not busy building women up, you can catch me taking Instagram stories of my bulldog Ruby, watching The Handmaid’s Tale, playing MUber (Mom Uber) to my kids or vacationing in my favourite town: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
I love serving the world by providing a space for moms to connect and support each other. In my opinion, moms are the backbone of communities because they are (literally) raising the future!
As the founder and CEO of MamaSoup, I’ve been featured on CHEX TV Morning Show, KawarthaNOW, Economic Development- The City of Kawartha Lakes and MyKawartha.
Still with me? Join me over at MamaSoup to keep the conversation going!