Jingle Bell, Jungle Bell, jingle all around…. ! It’s that time of the year again. How crazy is that? Feels like this year totally flew by. With all the happiness, lights, celebrations and fun that the Holidays bring they also bring stress. The holidays have always been a combination of beautiful and hard, and are even harder for single parents.  Back in the day when I was divorced, I used to dread holidays, they were the hardest time of the year. You just feel so single, so alone, so misplaced and as happy as I was to be single and divorced, the holidays just weren’t an easy time to navigate.  While I know this time of the year is surely challenging for you if you are that single parent, it is very important to also recognize that the season is very hard for your kids as well.  Finances may be tight, the struggle with the balance of time with your kids during the holidays may be limited, and you may even feel like you need to overcompensate in several ways. That sense of pressure can project onto your children and instead of bringing them joy backfire.

Here is what I want you to know and what I have learned the hard way. The most important thing to your children is your time and love. You do NOT need to spend a ton of money on trips, gifts or God knows what to show them that you love them. And if the other parent is in a competition to buy them off with materialistic things, don’t worry, things never compete with love.

Here are some ideas of ways to make the holidays special and memorable without breaking the bank, preserving your sanity and creating a truly happy home!

Tour Holiday Lights: Where we lived when my daughter was little, there was this awesome cool Italian neighborhood. The houses where decorated magically. Literally like a Christmas wonderland. I used to drive around there every year and just enjoy the beauty and creativity of those homes with my little princess and take lots of pictures. So take a walk or hop in the car.  It doesn’t have to be a formal holiday lights tour, you can likely pick a neighborhood and just cruise around in it like I used to do.  If there are some local holiday light tours, consider checking them out, but if they are more than a few bucks or a donation, take the other route and save money where you can.

Make new Traditions: Traditions are created to be repeated and remembered for years to come. If an old family tradition brings back bad memories or sad memories, offer up a spin on the tradition, or create new ones all together.  This doesn’t have to be something extravagant.  It could be something as simple as a family letter time capsule, creating a new holiday cookie recipe, making up a holiday-themed game, or making a craft together. Be creative and make it yours!

Ornament Exchange: I am no history buff on ornaments, but I know enough to note that ornaments can be very meaningful, and they don’t have to be the expensive ones.  Walk into just about any store these days and you will find them.  Each year, you and your kids could draw names and pick out an ornament for the name drawn.  I assure you that in 5, 10, 20 years from now, that ornament will be worth more to your kids (and you) than you could ever dream.

Story Time: Time with your children is always well spent time. Time without interruptions or technology.  Time to sit down, with your children and read a holiday-inspired book.  Of course, this might only hold the attention of those over the age of 3 or under the age of 12, but if you consistently make this a tradition, age won’t matter, and even when they are in their 20’s they will expect the “story time” and join the snuggle. When I ask my daughter what her best childhood memories where, she always says it was when you made those special quality bonding times, they were simple but so meaningful.

Go visit somewhere, in place of gifts: Things aren’t as important as time together.  A great way to spend the holidays with your kids, and to make it memorable is to create new memories.  Take a short road trip and go visit someplace new.  Experience new things and discover new adventures.  If you live in a place that isn’t too cold this time of year, a holiday camping trip might be fun!  Other options would be to visit places that are in their “offseason.”  Instead of spreading your budget too thin, invest your holiday budget into making new memories, in new places with your kids.  They will forever remember it and the “gift” will outlast any of the “hottest” toys, hands down.

The holidays were never intended to just be about the number of gifts you give or get.  What sticks with us as humans are experiences.  The experiences you share with your kids are priceless and even if they give you grief about not getting everything they “wanted” on their holiday list, keep reminding them that it’s not about gifts, and give them something that they will cherish forever, even if they don’t realize it right away.  Trust me, when they grow older they will remember those times and hold them very dear to their hearts.

If you want 5 other ideas for single parents to make the holiday’s special, I have more!  Click here to access them!


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