Single parenting through the festive season

Many New Zealand families consist of one parent with dependent children – and that parent is usually a woman. At this time of year, her already difficult role becomes even more so. Her finances are stretched at the best of times, and now she’s expected to buy Christmas presents, engage her kids in summer activities, and generally have a good time.

If this sounds like you, here’s some wisdom to help you through the silly season:

•Erase the memory of a partnered past. It’s useless to pine for a time that’s long gone. Instead, concentrate on you and your children, and make what you do with them now as dynamic as possible. Think of this as a time they’ll look back on fondly – it’ll give you an intuitive road map of how to make the summer break a happy one.

•If you don’t have your whanau around you, don’t worry. Create your own Christmas traditions, even if yours is only a family of two. These could encompass special recipes, outings and even sayings that you share with only your little ones. Another idea is to name every day during the summer holidays, not just Christmas and Boxing Day. Write the day’s theme on the calendar. How about Beach Day, Picnic Day or Zoo Day?

•Don’t worry about not having extra money to throw around. Adults feel guilty about this, but children will value you for what you give of yourself, not how much you spend on them. Teach them that Christmas is about giving. Make an arrangement with a retirement village or visit the Salvation Army and wrap up a modest present for someone less fortunate.

Finally, remember this: treasured childhood memories are not of expensive gifts or exotic locations. They’re of simple pleasures and emotional warmth. The best thing we can give our children is love, security and time.

By Mary Lambie

Are you a single parent? Share your tips for the Christmas season below.

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