Traditionally, the year-end festive season is filled with cheer, goodwill and happy celebrations. This is the time where many of us go into ‘holiday mode’ as evidenced by an explosion of social media posts about snowy holiday destinations, a frenzy of present buying and photos of Christmas decorations and trees of all shapes and sizes.
The season also brings about anxiety for many parents, who go into overdrive trying to think of activities to meaningfully occupy their children. For single parents (be it because of the death of a spouse, divorce or a long-term traveling spouse), the festive season can be especially tough as you bear the full weight of carrying the family through the end of the year.
For single parents, the festive season can be especially tough as you bear the full weight of carrying the family through the end of the year.
According to Theresa Pong, Principal Counsellor at Focus on the Family Singapore, festive seasons can sometimes amplify one’s feelings of loneliness or sadness. Theresa recommended, “During your quiet moments, process these feelings and if need be, do not hesitate to talk to someone you can trust or a professional counsellor.”
Exercising wisdom in your exposure to social media is also important. “Do not indulge in scrolling through all the happy photographs posted by your friends on social media,” she said. Instead, we can take some moments in the midst of busyness to reflect on the blessings we encounter daily, no matter how small they may be.
Take some moments in the midst of busyness to reflect on the blessings we encounter daily, no matter how small they may be.
Continue making memories with your children. Spend some time together putting up festive decorations, wrapping presents or baking cookies.
As my husband is a frequent traveller, I’ve found that it is helpful to carry on with the festive traditions as it helps our children find stability as they too are dealing with the emotional impact of a missing parent. This includes stepping out to attend gatherings and allowing yourself to have a little fun.
This is something Theresa also encourages: “Continue to bring them out to have fun and interact with your friends and family. When you intentionally avoid gatherings, your children may get the wrong message that something has gone very wrong and they should hide in order to avoid embarrassment. Take this time to affirm them that no matter what, you still love them and want them to be happy.”
Finding yourself a good support network of family and friends is paramount to getting through the festive season.
Finding yourself a good support network of family and friends is paramount to getting through the festive season. Learn to accept help and don’t feel guilty about taking time out for yourself. If need be, seek help from relatives, friends or neighbours whom you can trust to help look after your children while you take time off for self-care.
Learn to appreciate your children’s company and presence as you celebrate the year-end festivities together. This may even help alleviate the feelings of loneliness or resentment.
Keep first things first. As Theresa reminds us, “The festive season comes only once a year. Do not let the busyness or stress affect your joy in celebrating this season.”
© 2018 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.
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