For single parents, Thanksgiving can be the kickoff to a season of emotional minefields. So whether you’re freshly divorced or been unpartnered for a while, how do you survive during the Thanksgiving meal and maybe even energized for Black Friday?
One of the harshest realities as a single parent is the first Thanksgiving you spend without your kids. If you’re divorced or co-parenting, you’ll typically be switching off years or perhaps midday. How do you get through the day without hiding under the covers with a heap of tissues?
My first Thanksgiving as a single parent, I made a pact with myself to celebrate what I like to call “alternate side of the street” holidays. Who says you can’t feast on turkey and fixings on Wednesday or Friday?
If the thought of holidays sends you into a fit of regret and sadness, create new traditions with your kids. Regardless of whether your household includes two parents, a couple of kids and a dog, you’re still a family. You might try some new recipes or go for a Thanksgiving morning hike.
My first holiday season after divorce, my kids and I started a collection of travel ornaments. After Thanksgiving, we’d trim our little tree while we listened to holiday music and roasted chestnuts, which became our special celebration.
Friends are Family
Feeling lonely? Invite single friends over for Thanksgiving dinner. Your guests might include coworkers, friends from the gym, anyone you can think of who may not have a place to go. Ask guests to bring a friend. You’re doing a good deed and may even meet someone new!
Map Out Holiday Shopping
Single parents can take advantage of some bonus pre-game shopping time. Enjoy an extra cup of coffee or our favorite beverage in your jammies while writing gift lists. Check out online deals in advance of Cyber Monday. If your kids are away, skip out for some late night shopping.
Whether on Thanksgiving Day or throughout the year, take care of yourself. The stresses of being a single parent can be overwhelming. Treat yourself to some “me time,” whether it’s relaxing in a hot bath, reading a bestseller, binge-watching your favorite show, making time for your favorite workout or indulging in your favorite meal.
It’s easy to feel bad for yourself if you’re missing your kids. Start the day with a brisk walk or workout and volunteer to serve a meal on Thanksgiving. Sign up at Volunteer Match for opportunities in your area.
Although this may seem like a cliche favored by yogis, focusing on what is going right with your life goes a long way to alleviate Thanksgiving Blues. Make a list of what makes you happy. Look at what you do have rather than what you’re missing. You may be surprised what a game-changer gratitude can be. And Giving Thanks is what this holiday is all about, right?
Beth Cone Kramer is the author of the upcoming book “Digital Dating Detox.”