Surviving The Holidays: Single Mom Style

The holidays can be a stressful time for any parent and for Single Moms it can be extra difficult. As a former member of the club of fourteen years, I totally get that there’s a tendency to overcompensate because of the pressure so many of us women put on ourselves as nurturers to make sure everyone around us is okay.

I remember being super hard on myself about the gifts I thought I needed to buy my kids when they were younger – the latest PlayStation, newest G-Shock, cutest Uggs, hippest Abercrombie outfit, etc. Don’t misunderstand me. My kids never asked for those things, they knew that I was working a lot of hours and trying my best. It was more my own baggage. I grew up with a mother who showed me she cared by buying me things after she and my dad divorced and since I didn’t really have any blueprint as to how to mother (I was eighteen when I had my eldest), I thought that was how parents showed their affection. Sure, I said “I love you” all the time (something I didn’t hear a lot from my own mom growing up), but I also thought that in step with the verbal affirmation had to be a Barbie Doll or a new Teenage Mutant Ninja toy.

Christmas and Hanukkah gift lists can be a mile long and the pressure can be daunting for all parents but in a one-parent household, that pressure can sometimes be overwhelming. Starting right after Thanksgiving, there’s a seemingly neverending round of holiday party invites. Add that to the gift-giving headaches to all the decorating around the house in an attempt to make the season as picture perfect as possible for our children and you’ll be reaching for a spiked eggnog or Hot Toddy in no time.

Single moms need to make time for themselves and remember to practice self-care. After all, you can’t keep giving if your own tank is depleted.

Here are some holiday gifts to remember to give yourself that don’t cost a thing:

  • Take a bubble bath. Don’t underestimate the power of a relaxing, hot soak and a closed door away from the world. If your children/babies are still small, maybe leave the door open and place them in a playpen so you can keep an eye on them. If they’re old enough to play on their own though, don’t feel guilty about shutting the door. They’ll be fine.
  • Let yourself say no to supervising the school holiday dance or participating in a seasonal cookie swap. Betty Crocker is a fictional character. You don’t have to volunteer or agree to help with everything. Sure, teamwork is important but so is your sanity.
  • If your children do have lists or special items they want, set a budget. This benefits both of you. For them, it teaches them the importance of saving money and for Single Moms, it helps lighten the load and not your wallet.
  • Create experiences in lieu of shopping trips together. Malls and boutiques can be sensory overload for kids and nightmares for Single Moms. Instead, try baking cookies together or doing a craft project together (a couple of favorites my kids had included making paper mache piggy banks from old gallon milk jugs and wax paper crayon t-shirts). Take a walk outside and go sledding or jump in leaves together. Go on a scavenger hunt. Pick out a book and take turns reading to one another.

I know it’s not easy, but you can make it through the holidays and with a little pivoting, it can be just as enjoyable for you as it is for your kiddos.


Mimi Bergman is a business owner, historian, wife, and mom. She’s an ardent feminist, Zionist, and activist. Mimi is a fourth generation Chicago Cubs baseball fan.