From Surviving to Thriving during the Holidays

I know the holidays can be tough, especially for single moms. Sharing our kids and splitting up the time is difficult especially if you’re as obsessed with Christmas as I am. You might not have the visitation schedule you want, and this year it might be even harder with lockdowns, and I know how hard to is! I hate sharing. But Christmas is just one day. One day out of 365 days. We can create a beautiful holiday season every day from now until when your kids go to their other home. I put together some things that really helped me make all of the holidays special and ease the pain when my kids left to go to their dads on the one holiday.

Make the whole season special.

Plan your alone time

In general, I tend to spend too much time thinking about the future, and it’s much more difficult for me to stay in the moment, focused on what’s right in front of me. But planning out my time when the kids will be gone proved to be a lifesaver.  When my kids would leave on Christmas Day, my sister Kristen and I had the whole afternoon planned, so I had something to look forward to. Plan things that you normally don’t make time for.  Sometimes we’d go to sushi or another restaurant that was open, and we’d go to the movies. I don’t know what’s happening with movies now, but if you make your time away from your kids MOM time, you’ll be excited and may realize that some alone time is exactly what the doctor ordered! Read those books on your nightstand that you never get to read. Watch movies at home, call your family members who live out of town. Plan to take a bath. Enjoy going to the bathroom without someone walking in! (It’s possible! Hard to believe, I know.) Now, when the kids leave to go to their Dad’s on Thanksgiving and Christmas, John and I take a nap. I highly recommend that plan.

Go to a movie, have a spa night, read something just for fun… it’s up to you!

Taking action changes your mind!

When you start to worry about a future circumstance you wish were different, find one thing you can do to cherish today. Don’t waste one moment today or this week worrying about an upcoming holiday in the future. Find one moment where you can create something to remember. Taking action changes your mind! Here are some things you can do right now.

Create Holiday Traditions all Month

Speaking of traditions, I see those elf-on-the-shelf parents posting these elaborate scenes every night for weeks, and I’m amazed. I don’t like traditions that make me do something every single day – I get stressed out. Don’t try and do something that causes you more stress, just create little easy traditions you can do right now. We always make cookies, we always decorate the tree together, we put Christmas music on just anytime we’re making dinner. I’ll make more time to make the kids’ favorite meals. I’m doing my best to schedule more game nights and more nights at home with just us, no friends over. My daughter Leah is 15 and my son Brandon is 17, and one of the only things they will play with us is cards! Poker and black jack. Leah likes Yatzee and always beats us, but Brandon only likes cards. So last night when we were playing black jack, Leah made some mistake (I don’t remember what…I can’t ever remember the rules either) and the boys got after her. Then, the last hand, we all went all in (we just play with chips not real money) and Leah beat, us. all. Took everyone’s money. So when I went in to say good night, I told her not to worry about the boys (giving her a hard time). The best revenge is to beat everyone.

My sisters are brilliant mothers, and I think two of my sisters do this: They wrap 24 books on December 1st, put them all under the tree, and then they open one book each day and read that book that night. I wish I had done that! Such a great idea.

What will you do?

Here’s another brilliant idea from my sister Rachel. 25-Days of Christ ornaments. They choose one a day, hang it on the tree and tell the story behind it.

Here’s another family tradition from @brookeromneywrites on Instagram: secret pals. Every Sunday in December they drew the name of another family member, and all week they try and do a little extra service for their person, and then at the end of the week, they try and guess who it was. Then they’d pick a new name for the following week. I love that so much.

Find families to help

The best way I know how to feel good is to help someone. We sponsored a family every year and the kids love to go pick out toys for kids who have nothing. One year, we were able to actually meet the family and deliver the goods in person, but I don’t think that’s possible anymore. I don’t know about your kids, but mine love to shop online and give me suggestions all month long for what THEY want. But, they’ll never forget shopping for others and seeing the faces of that family when we delivered their presents. This year we’re sponsoring a single mom and her two kids who are living in a homeless shelter after escaping a domestic violence situation. They will be moving out to their own place in January, and they have nothing. The 7-year-old girl’s wish list had a pink towel on it. The mom’s wish list had plates and cups. We won’t get to meet them but at least it gives my kids an opportunity to think about others who really need help (instead of their first-world “problem” –  not getting a MacBook.) Hey, they have to have something to talk to their therapist about!

Donate presents, offer to babysit, help pay for a meal, make a care package… The options are endless!

Read more

My most precious, coveted time with my mom when I was little was when she would get on the floor with us and read us a book. I’ll never forget her reading the Littlest Angel with tears running down her cheeks. I didn’t understand why she was crying! And when my kids were little, my most coveted precious memories were when they were lying of either side of me while I was reading a book to them. They’re teenagers now, so that’s unfortunately gone bye-bye, but if being apart from your kids on Christmas Day is hurting your heart, use every moment you can up until that one day to read more.

Turn your memories into ornaments

I love my photo ornaments. I use this company called Myphoto. Upload your favorite pics of your favorite memories and put them on the tree. My son couldn’t care less, but my daughter loves them. Hey, that’s a 50% success rate! They’re really for me, let’s be honest.

I certainly hope you have a blessed, wonderful holiday season and spend as much time as a family as you possibly can up until the actual holiday. It’s just one day! One day that you can take care of mom. Mom needs some self-love and self-care, and when the kids go to their dad’s, it’s the perfect time. And if they are going to be gone several days, that’s even more time you can spend giving yourself the love and care you need.  So when they get back you will be your amazing 100% self ready to give them what they need!

Wishing you lots of love,



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