Being a single parent during the holidays can be one of the hardest roles you’ll ever take on. I was a single mom for many holidays and it was one of the most devastating things I’ve ever endured and I had my young daughter with me. I was also fortunate enough to have a terrific family surrounding me offering support left right and sideways. However, I spent the entire holiday season crying seemingly all alone. I think Thanksgiving was the worst though. All that togetherness and thankfulness was more than I could handle. I honestly didn’t feel too thankful or grateful for my life and worse yet, I felt like my baby’s second Thanksgiving was ruined. I wish more than anything I had known some single parent Thanksgiving hacks to make the holiday less weepy.
I don’t think that it’s just that you’re missing your former family life. You’re dealing with your own pain and despair along with your child’s or children’s. All of a sudden their favorite holiday traditions are different. They’re missing the other parent. There’s less money in your budget to put towards food and all the fun Thanksgiving day crafts. You’re all alone as the kids run around and you’re trying to prepare an entire feast. And if you think that all of this is a shock to your system, what about those Thanksgivings when you don’t even have your children. That’s really just too much. However, I promise you that you that there is help for you. I’m here to offer you some single parent hacks that I’ve come across that will have you taking on Thanksgiving like a pro. You will be feeling thankful no matter what your predicament.
1. Use Your Crockpot
Thanksgiving dinners don’t necessarily demand that you slave over a hot stove the entire time. Instead, why not get out that amazing gadget the crockpot and cook some of your favorite Thanksgiving recipes in the slow cooker. And while dinner is cooking all on its own you can play with your kids. Why not do some of those crafts we were talking about earlier.
2. Make New Traditions
This is going to be a tough holiday for everyone, especially if it’s your first one without your ex-spouse. Your kids’ happiness is top of your priority list, so keep them occupied during the day with new traditions. Maybe that means eating cinnamon rolls while watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or running to the first Black Friday sale of the season with your wish lists in hand. This is your day to make what you, and your kids, want without worrying about anyone else.
3. Get Some Store Bought Help
It’s hard enough to get weeknight dinner done, let alone a Thanksgiving feast. Simply stop by the store to pick up some premade dishes (or, if you have time, make the dishes beforehand and throw them in the freezer.) Foods like like mashed potatoes, stuffing, and even turkey can be bought pre-cooked and only require a few steps to make them table ready.
4. Spend Time With Family
There is nothing more heartbreaking as a single parent than spending a holiday without your child. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve done it or how much fun you know they’re having, it’s so hard. But being alone on Thanksgiving will only make it harder. If your little ones aren’t with you, make sure you’re with your family or friends to enjoy the day, and remember everything you have to be thankful for.
5. Skip The Traditions
The most important thing about surviving this day is making it work for you and your family. Maybe your kids don’t like many of the traditional dishes. If this is the case, make your own tradition and serve them their favorite dishes like macaroni and cheese and pumpkin pie. Throw a frozen pizza in the oven and eat it in front of a Christmas movie. Thanksgiving is about being together, not about the food or traditions. Play games, do arts and crafts, watch a movie, build a fort, etc. Just enjoy the quality time.
6. Invite Other Single Parents
There is nothing better as a single parent than having other single parent friends to commiserate and be with. If you and your kids will be alone on Thanksgiving day, think about inviting over other single parents, even if they don’t have their children with them. Being with others who know what you’re going through and are willing to roll up their sleeves and roll out some dough in the name of togetherness is an exciting thing. Have a potluck to take the pressure of cooking a holiday feast off of you.
7. Celebrate Another Day
If you won’t have your kids on Thanksgiving day, that doesn’t mean you have to give up the holiday. Celebrate on a day you have your kid with you and pretend it’s Thanksgiving. You can still do all of your traditions and make your favorite dishes, and you’ll get to spread the holiday cheer out a bit more.
This holiday can be tough, no matter how much you plan to make it better. If you’re having a hard time, with or without your kids, it can help to get a new perspective. Head off to a soup kitchen or find a group that’s accepting volunteers to feed the homeless, pass out clothes, or spend time at a nursing home on Thanksgiving. Seeing other people who are appreciative of the love and generosity you have to give can remind you what the day is all about and make you feel less alone.
9. Ask For Help
I believe that you can do it on your own, but don’t be afraid to ask for help. Enlist family members to bring dishes, or go to someone else’s house to celebrate the day. You don’t have to do it alone.