How Do I Take Care of Myself During the Holidays?
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Tips to avoid the single mom holiday blues
One of the toughest times for a single mom is the holidays. Daily life during this time of year can get us down; beautiful holiday cards with intact families arrive in the mail, holiday songs focus on family togetherness, and our friends share their family’s vacation plans with us. Our kids bring us joy, but there is also a sense of sadness. We are parenting alone, and although some of us are fortunate enough to have a supportive coparent, others may be in more contentious situations, leaving some Solo Moms to do it all on their own.
Regardless of the situation, self-care is an important part of maintaining our physical and mental health, and during the holidays, our self-care should look a little different. Here are some ways to help you prevent the holiday blues and make sure this holiday season is truly the most wonderful time of the year.
1. Visit with friends. A long bubble bath with a nice glass of wine and relaxing music is the perfect antidote to a stressful day or week, but isolation can have the reverse effect during the holidays. Don’t go it alone; sitting at home by yourself while others are out with family is depressing. Call a friend and meet for coffee, a drink, or dinner. If it’s the latter, don’t forget to get your makeup done at a local beauty counter on the way—a little touch of color will boost your confidence. Not in the mood for food? Schedule some time to exercise with a friend—those endorphins will increase your mood and help you keep off those extra holiday pounds. Whatever you choose, focus on uplifting conversations, such as New Year’s resolutions, upcoming travel plans, or your latest crush.
2. Attack of the holiday cards? Fight back! When the fireplace mantle is overflowing with photos of other people’s families, take some time to cherish your own and create an annual photo album. Although your family may look different than your friends’ families, it’s no less special. Spend some time looking through photos of the past year, and create an album that demonstrates your unique family. Those embarrassing pictures your kids snapped when you made dinner in pajamas (again), the selfies they took while you weren’t looking, and the random occasions when you actually remembered to ask a stranger to take a family picture will make you smile, reminding you of what makes your family wonderful. In years to come, these will be cherished memories and the beginning of many “remember when” stories.
3. Single, party of one? Feeling left out of the holiday parties because you are a Solo Mom? Throw your own, exclusively for your Solo Mom friends! Don’t bother with the fancy invitations or catering—create an online invitation for a potluck extravaganza. Encourage your friends to dress “festively” for the occasion, and curate a playlist of your favorite songs (our favorites: “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor, “Ex’s and Oh’s” by Elle King, “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten, “You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon, “Not Ready to Make Nice” by the Dixie Chicks, “Goodbye to You” by Patty Smyth, “Before He Cheats” by Carrie Underwood, “You’re No Good” by Linda Ronstadt, and “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette).
To get the party going, we recommend a fun gift exchange, such as a White Elephant. Select a reasonable price range to keep it affordable for all, and take some time to shop for a truly special gift. Games help break the ice, allowing your guests the opportunity to get to know one another as the best gifts get taken over and over again.
The beauty of this party is that you get to do it your way—there’s no partner to argue with over the details.
4. Only giving, never receiving? Although watching your children’s excitement as they open their gifts warms your heart, it can be disappointing to not have a partner with whom to exchange gifts. Ask a close friend (perhaps another Solo Mom) or a sibling to exchange gifts. Be wise with your choice—you don’t want to be stuck with an adult onesie, tacky jewelry, or a food-of-the-month club membership. Pick someone who is a good gift giver and knows you well. Want to involve your group of friends? A Secret Santa gift exchange is a tried-and-true way in which to give and receive. Regardless of which method you choose, set some parameters—including price and whether or not the gifts should be practical or whimsical—and let the gift buying and exchanging begin!
5. Boost your confidence. Feel as though you will never find your perfect match? Are you wondering, What’s wrong with me? and convinced you’ll be alone forever? Instead of sulking, create a “Love Jar” to improve your self-esteem. You can do this either as a group activity or via e-mail. Ask your friends to share what they like about you, giving them some sentence starters, if needed (e.g., I’ll never forget that time you . . . ; I love it most when you . . . ; I laugh when I think about the time we . . . ; I wouldn’t be the same without your . . . ; I am thankful we . . . because . . . ). Put each answer on a small strip of paper, and place them all in a jar or container that you’ve decorated. As soon as you start to feel blue, pull out your Love Jar and read about what makes you special.
Being a Solo Mom doesn’t mean you should always be alone, especially during the holidays. And no one should feel somehow less than others because of one’s relationship status. Make sure that your self-care during the holiday season reflects not only the time of year but also your personal struggles. Staying on top of your needs will make you a better mother and friend.
ESME’s Gia Miller is a Solo Mom to a nine-year-old girl and a six-year-old boy. She writes about health and wellness, medical news, parenting, divorce, and general lifestyle. Her work has been featured in online publications including Paste, Headspace, Folks, HealthDay, and more.
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