Don’t let those family holidays spoil your glow
The holiday season is a time of peace, love, and joy—at least, according to every commercial you’ll see from mid-October until January. In real life, the holiday season can be a tad more complicated, especially for those with strained family relationships.
If the holiday season is making you feel miserable rather than merry, you’re not alone. For many expectant Solo Moms, it can be isolating enough to be surrounded by couples at this time of year. For those whose families are less than supportive of their pregnancies, it can be downright demoralizing.
But take heart! We have some awesome ways to put the joy back into your holiday season, no matter what your family situation is.
Know your family
For most people, family time is like wasabi. In small, controlled doses, it’s great. Too much, though, and you’ll get seriously sick to your stomach. Of course, there are exceptions. There are some families, for instance, that are more like spoiled milk; anything more than a whiff will wreak havoc.
The point of these food metaphors is know your family. Be honest about how much togetherness you can reasonably withstand, and give yourself permission to cut the family time down to just that and no more—or even down to nothing, if need be. The truly tough part here is accepting your family for what it is and not comparing it with the blissful, uber-supportive, Hallmark families that other people appear to have.
Take a Facebook hiatus
Speaking of other people’s “perfect” families, you should proceed with caution on social media during the holidays. Under the best of circumstances, Facebook (or Instagram or Twitter) can make a gal feel woefully inferior. During the holiday season, it’s a recipe for disaster. All the beaming faces of close-knit families cuddled up in Santa hats in front of the fire will only trigger bitterness and resentment.
Sure, your brain understands these photos are carefully chosen and not a realistic representation, but your heart can’t help but feel sad, angry, and discouraged. Do yourself a favor and block those friends whose posts make you feel sorry for yourself, or just swear off social media until the holidays are over.
Set boundaries with family
After you’ve been honest with yourself about how much family time you can take, make your holiday plans. Remember, when your family is hard to handle, less is more. If you have to travel to be with family, consider staying at a hotel or with a friend to give yourself some valuable space. Rent a car so you won’t feel trapped. Keep visits short—now that you’re pregnant you have tons of great excuse to leave before dessert (and before you have a nervous breakdown).
Host festivities yourself
Give yourself the home advantage by hosting the holiday festivities yourself. Serving as host can offer the kind of control (and comfort) you can’t have when you’re someone else’s guest. Your turf, your rules. If your family is seriously getting you down, you may want to consider keeping them off the guest list and throwing a friends-only affair.
Hang with single friends
The holidays are a romantic time. All that gift giving, all that mistletoe; it can make even the most self-assured Solo Mom feel, well, lonely. Nothing eradicates loneliness like good company, and no one makes better company than a gaggle of girlfriends. If you’re worried about being the only singleton in a room full of couples, reach out to your single friends when making holiday plans. Chances are, they’ll be looking for some companionship too and you can vent to them, worry free, over your non-alcoholic egg nog.
Meet new people
There is absolutely no rule dictating that you have to spend the holidays with your dearly beloved, especially when those dearly beloved are driving you up a brick wall. While most folks spend the holidays with close friends and family, if those people are killing your pregnancy buzz, why not seize the chance to shake things up socially? Sometimes a conversation with someone totally new is the perfect antidote to the holiday blues.
One great way to meet new people and take your mind off your own troubles is to volunteer with a charity or cause that’s close to your heart. It may sound trite, but it is completely true: helping others is a huge mood booster. It’s also a rock-solid excuse to offer to family. They can’t argue with, “I can’t make it to Christmas breakfast because I’ll be feeding the homeless,” can they?
Being selfless is a great cure for winter woes, but so is being selfish. If you don’t have a special Santa in your life; be your own Santa. No one deserves pampering more than a pregnant person, so be generous and kind and indulgent with yourself. Get a pedicure, binge-watch Real Housewives, dig into a tub of your favorite ice cream. Buy yourself a gorgeous new pair of boots. Little luxuries can be a big mood elevator.
Mark your calendar
If worse comes to worse, just put a big red circle around January 2. Remember that despite how it may feel, December doesn’t last forever.
Are you a pregnant, Solo Mom? Check out our Pregnancy/Birth/Postpartum section meant just for you!
Nicole C. Kear, is the author of Now I See You: A Memoir, recently published by St. Martin’s Press. Kear, who lives in New York City, is also an editor, speaker, and mother of three.
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