Christmas without your kids – coping as a single parent

This Christmas will be my second Christmas without my son.  Christmas without your kids can feel very wrong and it never occurred to me that I might one day experience it.  It never occurred to me that I might one day become a single mother.  It occurred to me even less that I might one day learn to appreciate the joy of being a single parent

My first Christmas a single mum without my son was monumentally tough but I got through it.  If this is your first Christmas without your kids then I feel for you, but you will be okay.  To all my fellow single parents out there, and there are a few of us; 25% of children in the UK grow up in single parent families, these are my tips for getting through Christmas without your kids. 

Christmas without your kids

Christmas day is only a date, and there is no reason why the date has to be 25 December

Celebrate Christmas on a different day.  This year, I will be hosting Christmas at mine on 27 December.  Cygnet will have spent 25 December at his dad’s.  Cygnet has no concept of time, dates, the calendar.  All my three year old really understands is the hype and presents.   

Cygnet comes back to me on 26 December.  On the evening of 26 December, I will still place a mince pie and a carrot on the window near the balcony.  I will pour a large glass of Bailey’s for Santa (and later drink it myself).  Cygnet and I will have a disagreement about whether Santa’s sleigh will fit on the balcony or whether it will have to land on the communal lawn below.  This is a nice disagreement to have.

I will be there on 27 December when Cygnet discovers his bulging stocking.  He will come into my bed and we will open our stockings together.  My parents, my sister and her fiancé and my one year old niece will arrive at around 10.  We will all spend Christmas day together at mine.

My only nervousness about having our Christmas day on 27 December is that Cygnet will be exhausted from the excitement of having had one Christmas already.  I remind myself that no child ever suffered from having two Christmases.  I will just have to ensure that Cygnet is reassured that Santa definitely has both addresses. 

Delight in all of the things that you cannot do with a child

In many ways it is more depressing to attempt a familiar Christmas day without the main player (Cygnet) than it is to overhaul the whole thing.  Christmas doesn’t necessarily have to be low key just because you are single/separated/divorced, but you should see it as an opportunity to enjoy doing all of the things that you cannot do with a small child. 

On 25 December I will have a lie in.  I will stay in bed until at least 9am (that’s a three hour lie in!).  I will then get up and go for a run.  I will indulge in a bubble bath.  I will start on the champagne and smoked salmon by about midday and I will continue supping away until bed time.  I will fall asleep on the sofa.  I will indulge in a good book.  I will have adult conversations.  There will be no melt downs or tantrums.  There will be no overwrought and overexcited three year old to calm and discipline. 

Remember the perks of separation

As I prepare for Christmas this year I am reminded that there are perks to separation.  Cygnet and I obviously buy a present for his father.  This year he is getting a tie and matching cuff-links. I am not convinced that his dad will have the courage to wear the brightly coloured tie that Cygnet has picked out, but I think it is important that Cygnet is very involved in choosing the present for his dad –  hehe.    

I don’t have to buy gifts for the in-laws and that is a relief.  My ex has do to all of the present buying for his own family these days.  He also has to deal with their family disputes and disagreements.  A Christmas separate from my in-laws is altogether less stressful and a whole lot cheaper. 

Despite Cygnet not being with me on Christmas day I am actually looking forward to the Christmas season this year.  Christmas without your kids is tough, but Christmas doesn’t end with divorce and separation, it just changes, and often for the better.   

P.S.  If you found this post interesting, you might also like Co-parenting milestones –  how to cope without your child.  



  1. Hoon
    December 25, 2017 / 12:31 pm

    Merry Christmas Pen. I’ve been there and done that. My ex has there children every other Christmas, and over time I have developed a way of celebrating the day when I’m on my own. As we speak they’re at his for Christmas dinner, and I’m non resident on call for the hospital, so I shall make my way to my friend’s house for a Christmas coffee soon, before going across to the hospital in the evening to see how my juniors are coping.
    Previous years I’ve spent the day with the same friend, and other times I’ve done my favourite thing, which is to go for a long, long walk in the Lakeland fells.

    Oh, and err…because I started on those cursed dating apps following one of your blog posts, I am now “speaking” to a musician who lives in Anglesey. “Speaking”, my 17 year old informs me, is modern speak for not quite dating but maybe-in-the-future. Thanks?

    • thesingleswan
      January 6, 2018 / 10:09 pm

      Brilliant. I am really glad that you are ‘speaking’ to someone you’ve met via a dating app. Please don’t blame me if he turns out to be a disappointment. Pen x

      • Hoon
        January 12, 2018 / 7:20 am

        Aren’t they all :-)? Until I miraculously come across that proverbial needle in a haystack, that is.

        • thesingleswan
          January 13, 2018 / 11:18 pm

          Thanks. Pen x

  2. January 9, 2018 / 4:10 am

    Penn you are doing a great job. I wish he comes to you every Christmas. Keep it up.

    • thesingleswan
      January 9, 2018 / 9:44 pm

      Thank you. Pen x

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