Holiday season is definitely upon us, and there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that it is a stressful time for everyone. Coping with birthdays, holidays and special occasions can be very difficult when also doing the parenting work of two people, and this time of year often highlights the most negative aspects of double parenthood. However, few people realise that we double parents have a unique set of holiday bonuses tucked up our sleeves.
My top five double parent holiday bonuses are:
1. Time: Time alone, without the children, is essential to allow me time to shop, get the goodies home, wrapped, and well-hidden! Child-free time is also necessary to give me the space to do things for myself, celebrate with my own friends, and/or recharge my batteries. This applies all year if access arrangements with the non-custodial parent are working out well, but it is especially needed during the holiday season.
2. People: As a double parent, one of things I most enjoy about being “single” during the holidays is that I get to spend special occasions with the people who matter most to me – and no-one else. We have all had too many Christmas or Thanksgiving dinners where we resented the fact that we were having to spend time with certain people and agreed to do so just to please an impossible in-law or to keep the peace. Some of my best Christmas days have been just me and my children. It has been my choice and I love it. Christmas gets to be about the people I love and not about me sacrificing my Christmas in the hope of pleasing someone else.
3. Money: One thing I particularly enjoy about double parenting during festive occasions is not being forced to answer to or be accountable to anyone else for how and where I spend my money. I definitely have less than I would like but nothing comes close to the feeling of being in control of my own money. I enjoy buying gifts for the people I love and refuse to get in a spending competition with the non-custodial parent.
4. Gifts: I always buy myself something that I really want – not necessarily expensive, but something special. I wrap it and address it from Santa. My young children don’t notice that I do this, but as they watch me open my gifts they unconsciously learn that holidays are for parents too. It is okay to be good to yourself. Your kids will grow up with an understanding that double parenting is not about parental sacrifice. We already sacrifice so much as double parents that these acts of self-kindness are essential to our own emotional well-being. And as an added bonus to no longer feeling obligated to have “family” dinners with my ex’s family, I no longer have to buy them gifts!
5. Peace of mind: When I assert myself and set firm boundaries as far as time, people, money, and gifts are concerned, I give myself the gift of peace of mind. And that means a less stressed-out me. I am not left worrying because those matters are already taken care of – there’s no shopping for or being with people I don’t like, and no partners complaining about how much money I have spent or how I have decorated the house. When I take care of myself, I am a better parent because I am giving the best version of myself to my children. This means that the holiday season is a lot more pleasant for everyone.
As far as I am concerned, these five holiday bonuses apply year-round – they’re like the gifts that keep on giving!! Happy holidays!