Sole Parenting at Christmas: How to thrive, not just survive | HerCanberra

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Sole Parenting at Christmas: How to thrive, not just survive

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“Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas, let your heart be light…”

The lead up to Christmas, indeed any special occasion can be overwhelming. As a sole parent, this can be even more so. The struggle is real, the challenges are plenty and not for the faint-hearted.

Managing the mental load of it all can seem like a never-ending to-do list: shelter, food, sleep, work, bills, time, health, childcare, self-care, school, cleaning, laundry, transport, pets, gifts, holidays, special occasions and milestone events…not to mention the dreaded C word that 2020 brought to us.

The challenges of doing this as a sole parent can feel stressful, relentless, overwhelming, isolating, disconnected and wondering, ‘are we enough?’.

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” – Wayne Dwyer

So how to navigate this sole parenting journey if we want to not just survive, but thrive?

Some magic tools that may help things along: mindfulness, compassion, kindness, optimism, connection and community.

These qualities can transform the lead up to Christmas as a sole parent into an environment that I would describe as thriving, rather than just surviving.

“When a Mother somewhere forgives herself for being human, earth exhales a little” – Breeze, Enlighten Education

Using the breath and nature to bring yourself into the present moment can clear away mental clutter and bring you back to the simple.

Accept you are perfectly imperfect and that it’s OK to be the good enough parent. Compassion for self = compassion for others. Finding time for self-care is crucial to topping up our own buckets so we can give to others.

Kindness costs nothing and helps us and others to move gently through the world. Kind is the new cool.

Cultivating optimism with positive affirmations contributes to growing our energy and enthusiasm for life.

Connecting within yourself: heart, mind and body allows you to genuinely connect with others in meaningful, authentic ways.

Contributing to our community involves generosity of spirit and resources. When we give, we get.

“Twinkle lights are the perfect metaphor for joy. Joy is not a constant. It comes to us in moments—often ordinary moments. Sometimes we miss out on the bursts of joy, because we’re too busy chasing down extraordinary moments” – Brene Brown

The art of reframing Christmas and significant events can involve changing our expectations to bring about a more positive experience for all involved.

Coming back to the simple can help. Letting go of the need to control every aspect or to have everything perfect can keep it real.

Does the celebration have to be on a fixed date or could it be flexible?

If involved in shared care, could you take turns each year? Focus on the kids.

On your off-year, go do something that nourishes you. Consider volunteering.

Honouring your own boundaries and what you are prepared to accept and not accept can help to let go of any resentment.

Surround yourself with others whose company you genuinely enjoy. Changing the environment can change the tone of the event. Take the focus away from material things and onto experiences.

Explore DIY options. Create your own meaningful rituals. Expect the best and prepare for the worst. Let others contribute their skills and talents, gather your resources together. Use your imagination and creativity. Be flexible.

Some of the biggest hurdles of sole parenting can be related to exhaustion, overwhelm, conflict, isolation, finances, making comparisons, safety, health, well being and time-management.

Living the life of a sole parent of children with dignity and respect, with enough resources to live your best life together with hope for the future and being able to enjoy each precious moment, spending time in nature, finding the simple joy and contentment in the every day is my wish for all this Christmas.

Sole Parent Families needing to reach out at Christmas may consider connecting with others in the same situation this Christmas to join resources and celebrate together. Stay close to people who feel like sunshine.

Organisations in Canberra that can be of assistance to families in need this Christmas include Centrelink, Lifeline, Parentline, The Smith Family, The Salvation Army, Anglicare, Barnados and others.

Remember, presence over presents.

Children will remember the memories, not the stuff. If you are alone, nourish yourself with simple self-care and ritual or reach out and connect. BE the light.

“So ring the bells that still can ring,

Forget your perfect offering,

There is a crack in everything,

That’s how the light gets in”

– Leonard Cohen, Anthem

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