My first christmas as a single mum

This was my first christmas as a single mum, and I spent it without my son.  I dropped Cygnet at his daddy’s house at 5pm on Christmas Eve and collected him at 10am on Boxing Day.  The ex and I had arranged this at a meeting in November.  It worked for my ex because his family were staying with him on Christmas Day, and it worked for my family because my sister and her soon to be fiancé (I hope!) would not be around until Boxing Day afternoon.

I wanted my family to see Cygnet at Christmas time. 

My ex obviously wanted the same. 

This was the most logical arrangement.

I have been reading single parent blogs and it seems that there is no real ‘norm’ for Christmas custody arrangements:

  • Some children are asked which parent they would like to spend their Christmas with.

This, to me, feels like unnecessary torture for both parents, particularly the unchosen one.  I can’t help but wonder whether this rewards the parent who is slacker on discipline, allows football in the living room, cheesy wotsits for lunch, is content for the dog to eat all homework and for bedtime to be unregulated. Fortunately, my 16-month old Cygnet, is not really at the choosing age.

  • Some children always spend Christmas with the parent who they spend the most time with.

My heart says ‘yes’ to this solution, but my head tells me that it is not really fair either on my ex or my son.

  • Some children’s parents come together for Christmas Day so that they can spend Christmas Day as a ‘family’.

We have been separated for less than a year and we may feel differently in a decade’s time, in fact I hope we do, but this also feels like unnecessary torture for both parents. 

Do I want to spend Christmas with the controlling narcissist (comments like this are a prime example of why I blog anonymously!) who I am proud to leave?  Er,  no thank you.

Does my ex want to spend Christmas with the woman who broke off their engagement? I very much doubt it. 

  • Some children spend half of the day with each parent

We considered this.  In fact it was our initial plan, but it became clear that my ex wasn’t going to allow me to have the latter half of Christmas Day because his family were not arriving at his until the afternoon, and my ex in-laws are not in the business of changing their plans to accommodate those they love let alone those they hate (i.e. me). 

I knew that I would have the collection deadline hanging over me during the first half of Christmas Day and then I would be pining for Cygnet once I had handed him over.   Then I would probably just drink and cry and drink and cry and drink and cry some more … and I didn’t want this. 

  • Some children have two Christmas Days every year

This will probably be Cygnet’s norm.  This year, my family were absolute superheroes (yet again!) and we didn’t open any presents or eat the Turkey until the 26th of December.  On the 25th of December my parents, my brother and my grandmother ate fish, had some adult conversation and watched Skyfall.    Our Christmas Day was on the 26th of December.  It actually felt like Christmas Day was a day later and I don’t feel that I spent Christmas Day without Cygnet. 

I cannot thank my family enough.

That doesn’t mean to say it was easy…
…dropping Cygnet at his dad’s on Christmas Eve was a special kind of hard.

My ex’s mother was there.  I wished her a merry christmas but she didn’t reply.  She couldn’t smile at me.  She told my mum (who I had taken for moral support) how stressed she had been and how I should never have left my ex.

I didn’t really get to say a proper goodbye to Cygnet.  Obviously, Cygnet is excited to see his daddy when I drop him off.  He is even more excited to see the pussy cat, Edgar, who he has taken to rugby-tackling.  I would have liked a bit of time to say goodbye to Cygnet properly, to wish him a happy christmas and to explain to him that I will see him soon.  At sixteen months Cygnet doesn’t have a clue what is going on so this ‘goodbye’ would have been for me, but my ex didn’t leave the room so that I could have a couple of minutes to smother Cygnet in kisses and cuddles before I left. 

With my ex in the room, Cygnet was more excited about cheesy wotsits, throwing balls around the living room and rugby-tackling the cat. 

…collecting Cygnet on the 26th of December was no walk in the park either.

By this time my ex’s twin sister and her family had arrived.  My ex and his twin sister have a tempestuous relationship and always have done.  My ex says that his sister has anger management issues.  He is very right.  She is also very selfish. 

When I collected Cygnet, she gave me what can best be described as a snarl.  She also took Cygnet from my ex’s arms, daddy’s arms, and into another room so that she, Auntie, could say goodbye.  I actually felt a bit sorry for my ex because he didn’t get to say a proper goodbye to Cygnet on the 26th either, but that was his sister’s fault and not mine. 

All in all though, Christmas was good.  It actually felt longer because we were able to prolong the celebrations by having a quiet and civilised day on the 25th and our Christmas Day on 26th.  My sister and her boyfriend also stayed around for 27th and Cygnet had so many presents that we carried on the unwrapping on 27th.  The 27th was also a lovely day. 

My christmases as a single mum are never going to be easy.  No solution is ideal, but I am hoping that alternating 25th December and two Christmas Days a year for Cygnet will be the solution for us. 

I am sincerely thankful and grateful that I had, and have, the family support to help me through it.

Oh, and to my ex sister in law.  Roald Dahl has some wise words for you:

The Twits

Roald Dahl, The Twits. Illustrations by Quentin Blake.

Loads of love. xx


My Random Musings


Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday


  1. January 5, 2016 / 9:04 pm

    Christmas is always a difficult time when you have to share your children with another parent. I think having a seperate christmas day is a good compromise, my ex always insisted on splitting the day up, which always left that deadline there, christmas was over by 2pm.
    Your ex’s sister and mother sound perfectly delightful, I cant imagine how your ex turned out so bad 😉
    (I love that Roald Dahl quote too) #TwinklyTuesday
    Tracey Abrahams recently posted…A Bit Of Everything Linky – Week #11My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      January 5, 2016 / 9:33 pm


      yes you are quite right, my ex’s family are indeed perfectly delightful. Every time I see them it makes me super relieved that I will never be part of their family. Thanks for your comment #TwinklyTuesday

  2. January 5, 2016 / 9:18 pm

    So difficult but it sounds like you definitely made the best choice under the circumstances. My husband has his daughter (now 11) in the same way (alternating Christmas & Boxing day each year) and it’s worked OK. Actually in recent years it’s one of the only times of the whole year we’re guaranteed to see her. Great quote. Glad your family were such stars and you all managed to kind of get one over on time and make Christmas start a day late 🙂 Happy New Year Pen thanks for linking X #thetruthabout
    Sam recently posted…The Truth about… #58My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      January 5, 2016 / 9:32 pm

      Hi Sam,

      Happy New Year to you too and thanks for continuing to host #TheTruthAbout.

  3. January 5, 2016 / 9:25 pm

    It will hopefully get easier over time. My mum and dad divorced when I was 11, and now they have a little more wisdom, we all celebrate xmas day together – I get the task of cooking for everyone. In fact I also invite my step-daughters mum (hubby’s ex), so that she doesn’t have to split her time between the two houses. The latter bit is a new development though and has only taken us 7 years to implement….. It seems to work, despite others thinking it a bit strange 🙂

    That last quote is hilarious. I know quite a few people that applies to. Hope you have a good 2016 #TwinklyTuesday
    Harry’s Honest Mummy recently posted…Snapshot of the Week 2016 #1My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      January 5, 2016 / 9:31 pm

      Thank you. Wow I am really impressed with your approach to Xmas. That must be quite difficult, but clearly a lot of water has passed under the bridge and time is a great healer. Thanks for your comment. #TwinklyTuesday

  4. January 6, 2016 / 3:52 pm

    Christmas is not an easy time when you’re a single parent. I’m sorry you have to go through this but it does seem like you’re handling it quite well. I hope it only gets easier for you as time goes by. #abitofeverything

    • thesingleswan
      January 7, 2016 / 9:14 pm

      Hi Sarah,

      thanks very much for your comment. I appreciate it.

      pen x

  5. January 6, 2016 / 4:50 pm

    What a challenging situation tp be in but si pleased you have a wonderful family to support you through thud complex situation. X #thetruthabout

    • thesingleswan
      January 7, 2016 / 9:14 pm

      Thank you!

  6. January 8, 2016 / 12:42 pm

    I do not know what you are going through but I have friends who go through this every Christmas, every birthday, every special holiday and it does and can work out. I am sure you will both work out the best way for all three of you. Roald Dahl has very very wise words indeed. Thanks for sharing with #abitofeverything
    Agent Spitback recently posted…A bit of Everything Week 11My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      January 10, 2016 / 9:41 pm

      Thank you for the encouragement.

  7. December 18, 2016 / 12:04 am

    Brave post and I really feel for you and your babe. Deeply impressed with yr immediate family – wot a lovely lot! Sounds like Cygnet is well loved #KCACOLS

    • thesingleswan
      December 22, 2016 / 8:51 pm

      There are indeed a great lot. Thanks for your comment. Pen x

  8. December 20, 2016 / 8:57 pm

    It must be hard for you, I can’t imagine what it’s like. Hopefully it will get better as the years come.

    Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday

    Happy Christmas! xx
    Rachel Bustin recently posted…Book Review: Late Whitsun by Jasper KentMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      December 22, 2016 / 8:48 pm

      Thanks Rachel. Pen x

  9. January 2, 2017 / 9:44 am

    This sounds like a greeat solution to such a difficult and emotional situation. I think splitting the day puts so much pressure on both parents and the child, whereas this way you both get to enjoy a Christmas with baby. I hope it gets easier and good on you for keeping your cool with the evil twin 😊 x #KCACOLS
    Jaylan – Diaperst at Dawn recently posted…Christmas 2016My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      January 2, 2017 / 9:50 pm

      Thank you. Pen x

  10. January 4, 2017 / 9:36 pm

    I can’t imagine sharing special days like Christmas with an ex….. but as you say in the future you may feel differently #kcacols
    OddHogg recently posted…Piglets 10 Months UpdateMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      January 4, 2017 / 10:17 pm

      Thank you. Pen x

  11. January 5, 2017 / 10:26 pm

    It’s really hard isn’t it. I know you read my post on my first Christmas without my daughter at home and I wasn’t particularly happy about but being 10 she is old enough now to make her own mind up. Plus this may be the last Christmas her grandad may be with her so it was extra special for the both of them. In precious years we have both split the days fairly and I’ve never denied her dad the chance to come round and see her or take her for an hour or so if it wasn’t his turn for dinner that year

    It’s nice your family waited to give cygnet another Christmas with you all and I hope you manage to find some sort of compromise for the future #kcacols
    Tracey Bowden recently posted…To Believe or Not To BelieveMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      January 6, 2017 / 10:41 pm

      Hi Tracey,

      Thanks for your comment. I am hoping that in the future we will be able to agree on alternate Christmas Days with Cygnet. My advice to any single parent in this situation is to remember that Christmas Day just happens to fall on 25 December and there is no reason why it cannot fall on 23rd or 27th etc. No child is going to suffer from having two Christmas Day celebrations…provided it doesn’t become a competition of course! Pen x

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