We can help you cope with Christmas as a single parent
CHRISTMAS can be lots of fun for the family.
However, if you are a single parent – and there are more than 17,000 in Hull and East Riding – there may be moments when you feel worried about how you and your children will make the most of the holiday when money is tight or family time is split.
At Gingerbread, we have come up with some top tips for making the festive season a little easier – with simple but effective suggestions from single mums and dads who have been there themselves.
First Christmas as a single parent? Try creating some new Christmas traditions with your child, such as making Christmas decorations – something that helps you spend time together.
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But don't forget to take some time for yourself, too – it can be stressful trying to do everything on your own so, if you can, let family and friends help you out when you need it.
Plan contact arrange- ments early. Drawing up and agreeing a schedule in advance for when your child will be with their other parent can make time spent apart easier and less emotional.
If you find the thought of being apart from your child difficult to cope with, build in some quality time together before or after they go.
It doesn't have to be anything expensive – an afternoon of silly games or a trip to the park can give you all time to relax and enjoy each other's company.
Of course, it can be hard to enjoy Christmas if you are worrying about the bills coming in January.
Advice from other single parents is to decide your budget and stick to it.
Be realistic about what you can afford and, where possible, avoid using credit.
Organise Secret Santa exchanges with adult friends and family, consider setting a spending limit with your child's other parent for kids' gifts or have a go at making your own presents.
We know that Christmas can be a tough time emotionally, so remember you are not alone.
Gingerbread has free online forums for single parents where you can chat with other single parents.
Another tip is to focus on the new year as a fresh start and think about what you would like to achieve.
Whether it is returning to work or meeting more single parents in your area, Gingerbread can help – visit www.gingerbread.org. uk or call the Single Parent Helpline on 0808 8020925.
There is more great advice and support for single parents, including the full Christmas top tips factsheet, on our website.