The approaching Christmas holiday can cause stress for single parents.
I remember standing in the checkout line at Toys”R”Us a few days before the first Christmas after the divorce. I had to wait until I received my December paycheck before I could buy my three kids’ presents. Most single parents struggle to provide Christmas for their children. These four simple steps can make a difference.
- Plan ahead, way ahead. If you haven’t joined a Christmas Club at your bank, get the process started for 2015.
- Discuss with each child what his/her desires are. Use the catalogs and/or newspaper ads.
- See which stores have layaway plans. This way you can avoid the crowds and take care of Christmas in advance.
- If you have to charge Christmas, schedule the payments to pay it off as quickly as possible.
Children take on the attitude of the parent. If you are enthusiastic, they will catch your spirit.
- Talk with your children about opportunities for giving to others during the holidays.
- Make it a family activity to bake and decorate cookies for grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers, etc.
- Use a calendar to plan family events, and be enthusiastic about each one.
- Make simple crafts and decorations. Use Pinterest.
- Start your own family traditions. Use Google.
- Let your children know what to expect. There will be fewer disappointments that way.
A mother who was single for seven years and raising two daughters told me, “You must keep your focus.” She said she repeatedly taught her girls the difference between needing and wanting. She never barked, “You don’t need that.” Rather she sat down with them and explained, really explained, the difference between wanting and needing. While this mom worked long hours, her children were able to stay with relatives. Her daughters, now in their late teens, know and value the difference between wanting and needing. During the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, they do community service, and giving back has become a family tradition. Though it was extremely difficult at times, her determination paid off because she maintained focused self-discipline. Christmas for most single parents takes lots of self-discipline, especially if you are trying to make up for the absence of the other spouse.
It is possible to keep Christmas simple, reasonable and meaningful. Most importantly, keep Christ as the center of your Christmas.