Looking ahead to the festive season and dreading a blue Christmas? We’re about to help you make sure it is the most wonderful time of the year with our tips and tricks, plus a sprinkling of Frolo fun. It might not look like the traditional family Christmas card we’re force fed every year, but your holidays can be incredibly special and most importantly, filled with love and laughter. This is your ultimate guide to Christmas as a single parent.
Firstly, let’s talk timings. Yes, Christmas falls on 25 December, but single parents are allowed to get a little creative with dates. It’s called the festive period because Christmas is more than just one day. If you’re a co-parent and dividing up time over the holidays, or navigating work schedules and won’t be able to spend Christmas Day with the children, you can ditch traditions and pick a different day to celebrate. Or you can introduce Christmas Eve or Boxing Day traditions that make the time you do have as a family extra special.
Secondly, it’s important to let go of the ‘perfect family Christmas’ that we’re shown time after time in the media. Manage your expectations about how Christmas is going to play out now that you’re a single parent and be realistic about what you want your festive celebrations to be about. If you’re home alone with the kids, you’ll be putting in the hard work for presents and cooking etc, so keeping things simple and making fun the main priority is a good idea. If you’re home alone, tearing up the rule book on what Christmas stands for and making that decision for yourself (ah, the beauty of independence) is a must. Now, follow our guide and plan the perfect Frolo Christmas.
Christmas Eve boxes, Elf on the Shelf, morning Mimosas and matching pyjamas: Instagram has a lot to answer for when it comes to setting Christmas expectations. Your family doesn’t have to look like a grotto, and you don’t have to have designer sleepwear to have a successful Christmas. Think about the things that really make you and the kids happy, and make these your traditions. Maybe it’s a Christmas Eve movie night with hot chocolates in bed. A Boxing Day football kickabout, whatever the weather. Maybe instead of a turkey with all the trimmings it’s a family-of-two feast of your favourite dishes (mac ‘n’ cheese is Christmassy if you add a side of cranberry sauce, right?). If you don’t have the kids of Christmas you could pick a day in the run up to do something really special like go to a grotto, exchange gifts with family or go to a pantomime. It’s your Christmas, and you can make it special however you want to.
Christmas can be a really tricky time if you’re sharing custody with a co-parent. Try and keep the split of time fair and if possible, stick to the same schedule every year (alternating who gets the kids if this works for you) so that both you and the children have a routine they can rely on and look forward to. Again, you don’t have to make sure that both homes do Christmas in the same way, just that it’s done in a way that you all enjoy in your home. If you have to spend extra time, or have extra contact with your ex over Christmas and this is difficult for you, prepare by being as organised as possible and keep focus on the children and what they need. Read our guide to amicable coparenting for more advice.
Got the children this Christmas and don’t know how to make it special? Remember than children take their lead from you. If your day is filled with joy and love, theirs will be too, no matter how many parents they have at home with them. If you live close to family, why not arrange a big get-together, to take the pressure off you to do all the work, and so that you get some support from the people that love you? Or find some single parent friends in your area (enter Frolo!) and team up with them for a Christmas celebration with your chosen family.
Alternatively, have an extra special day on your own with your child or children, doing the things you both love, eating what you want to eat, watching what you want to watch, and generally being a bit of a revolutionary, rewriting the rules and drawing your own beautiful.
If you’re someone who celebrates Christmas, it can feel really, really wrong to be away from your children on the 25 December. Firstly, it’s fine to acknowledge this, and to feel really sad about it. What is less advisable, is to let this sadness embody the occasion. You can still have a wonderful Christmas celebration with your children on an alternative day, and more importantly, you can now give yourself permission to fully and guiltlessly enjoy a completely selfish Christmas. Spend the day alone if you want to, doing absolutely anything you want (sleeping, binge-watching your favourite shows, eating everything in the fridge or glugging champagne are all valid choices). Or tag along with friends or family’s celebrations, if being amongst family won’t be too hard without the kids. Alternatively, (and we love this option,) join up with other frolos riding solo and have a day filled with laughter and happiness, with a shared understanding of what your fellow single parents are feeling. Read this blog from frolo Sally, about how she did just that.
Christmas is not about money. It is about love and laughter and connecting with loved ones (and yes, we’re counting self-love in this, should you choose a solo Christmas this year). If money is tight this year, as it is for so many frolos, don’t break the bank trying to tick off everything on their Christmas list, or buying everyone you’ve ever come across a gift. Be realistic about your Christmas shopping budget and allocate it however you want. Tell family that you won’t be buying presents for adults this year. Ask friends not to buy for you, or suggest a Secret Santa so that everyone only has to buy one gift. Regift unwanted presents, shop on Vinted, eBay or scour your local charity shops, and remember that children tend to want to unwrap something more than worrying too much about the price tag of what’s inside. If your child is young, wrap up some of the toys they rarely play with to fill their stocking. We can guarantee they won’t notice. And if there’s one expensive gift that they really want, think about asking all the friends and family in their life to chip in toward it rather than breaking the bank buying it all by yourself. This is also a great opportunity to teach your child about the value of money and what Christmas is all about - yes they look forward to finding out what Father Christmas delivers them, but ultimately they’ll remember it for the love that fills your home and the care and thought you’ve put in to making the occasion special. Find budget and free activities in our single parent Christmas activities guide.
Get onto the Frolo App to see how other people are making Christmas work for them as a single parent if you’re in need of inspiration or feeling blue. If you’re facing your first Christmas as a single parent it is going to feel extra strange or particularly challenging, but on Frolo you’ll find single mums and dads who have been navigating the festive season solo for years and will be bursting with words of wisdom and encouragement when you need it most.
There are plenty of events and meet-ups happening via the Frolo App that you can opt in to and make Christmas extra special. There’s even a Frolo meet-up happening on Christmas Day that will mean you’re surrounded by like-minded single parents to up the cheer-factor. Find out more on our guide to single parent Christmas activities.
To connect with local like-minded single parents and the wider Frolo Single Parent community for advice, support and friendship simply download the Frolo app.