Being a single parent during Thanksgiving can be challenging. But finding new traditions for your family and letting go of expectations is critical. Check out these Thanksgiving ideas for the single parent.
Being a Single Parent During the Holidays
Let’s be honest. Being a single parent on any holiday is hard.
Either you have a custody schedule where you split the holiday so you get the morning with your kids or you get the evening with your kids. Or you are parent A (or parent B), so you don’t get to see your kids at all on the holiday this year because it isn’t your holiday.
Maybe you don’t have a custody agreement at all, and you have your children 24/7.
Regardless of the situation, the pressure to make the day special for you and your kids all by yourself is daunting.
Some holidays are easier for some people than others. A lot has to do with your background on the holidays. If the 4th of July was always a huge family gathering on the lake when you were growing up then trying to recreate that now as a single mom with no boat can be depressing.
Some of it has to do with how society builds the holidays up. We get time off from school and work to celebrate the holidays. Our kids discuss their plans for the upcoming holiday in school. Every commercial and TV show is revolving around the happy families celebrating these holidays. The pressure to follow the norm is there.
Thanksgiving as a Single Parent
Take Thanksgiving. It feels un-American not to play football outside after you eat. I had those types of Thanksgivings while growing up. But I can’t seem to recreate it as a single mom with two young kids.
One child will only eat dessert.
The Macy’s parade cannot compete these days with iPads, iPhones, and gaming systems.
A whole turkey for one mom and two kids – talk about leftovers that no one wants no matter how creative you are in the kitchen.
You may not even have the children all day on Thanksgiving (or at all) thanks to custody agreements.
I recently read Jen Hatmaker’s book “Of Mess and Moxie: Wrangling Delight Out of This Wild and Glorious Life” and the part I love is how she parents “around 70 to 80 percent success with a 20 to 30 percent failure rate……the other 20 percent is either recalled with grace and laughter or forgotten altogether.”
Often as single parents, we have to be mom and dad at the same time, but this doesn’t mean we have to be at the top of our game all the time. We need to give ourselves grace.
Our kids don’t care about a big turkey on the table with a beautiful centerpiece and nicely folded napkins and 20 guests.
I’m guessing my son would smile his biggest if I offered to play his Xbox with him for 2 hours on Thanksgiving morning instead.
7 Non-Traditional Thanksgiving Ideas for Single Parents
Start your own traditions that work for your family. Check these ideas out for starting your traditions.
- If you want it to be memorable since it’s still Thanksgiving, give it a name. Thanksgiving 2018 Bryson Style (or whatever your child’s name is) and let him decide the day. Make it a day where you are Thankful for him. Let your child choose the meal and the entertainment.
- Serve Mexican or Italian food if that’s what your family likes. What is the point of having a turkey and all those leftovers if no one is going to eat them?
- Buy all the traditional Thanksgiving food pre-cooked from the local grocery store. I did this last year. It is easy and not too expensive. You throw it all in the oven a couple of hours before you eat.
- Wake up early and have a game or movie extravaganza and stay in your pajamas all day. Get the kids super pumped about this beforehand by writing out the games/movies you will do and in which order. Write in what you will eat and where your breaks will be. Let your child be in charge and mark the day off as you go.
- If you don’t have to worry about getting back for any other custody arrangements, then consider a mini-vacay like a water park. It is pretty much free from the holiday drama. When you are in the waterpark itself, you can forget everyone else is eating turkey right now.
- Get the kids in the kitchen instead. Bake cookies with the kids and let them choose the menu.
- Expand your definition of “family” and invite other friends who are in similar situations. You still do not have to cook – get all the fix-ins’ precooked from the grocery store. In this situation, it’s the community that matters, not the food.
Making your own Thanksgiving Memories as a Single Parent
Letting go of your expectations for your family can be even harder.
I encourage you to focus on your kids this Thanksgiving. Not what the media has excited us into doing. Not how happy our Facebook friends appear to be.
May you uncover the perfect Thanksgiving tradition for your family.
This post is part of a 7-month Single Moms series “Secrets of a Successful Life” by Single Mom Bloggers. Each month, multiple amazing single mom bloggers will be writing on different topics. I pray you find encouragement, acceptance, and belonging amongst these brave women!