Being a single mom is one of the hardest roles you’ll ever take on, but it can be especially tough during the holidays. My first holiday season as a single mom was devastating, even though I had my little girl with me. I spent Christmas Eve crying as I played Santa alone. But, honestly, I think Thanksgiving was the worst, as it’s all about togetherness, family, and feeling grateful for your life. And I’ll be honest, I wasn’t feeling too thankful that day. I wish I had known some single mom Thanksgiving hacks to make the holiday less weepy and more lovely. Instead, I spent that night crying and felt like I wasted my baby’s first Thanksgiving.
And it’s not just that you’re missing your former family unit. For moms with older kids, you’re dealing with your children’s despair and pain over all of their favorite holiday traditions being different. You’re working with a smaller budget to put towards food and fun Thanksgiving-themed crafts. You’re trying to prep an entire Thanksgiving feast alone as your kids run around. Don’t even get me started on spending the holidays away from your children. It’s enough to drive anyone insane. But I promise you, you will totally pull through and rock all of Thanksgiving as a single mom with these nine hacks. You will end the day feeling thankful, regardless of the circumstances.
1. Use Your Crockpot
Cooking a Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have to mean putting eighteen dishes in the oven. Instead, pull out your trusty crockpot and make some of your favorite Thanksgiving recipes in the slow cooker, freeing up the time to spend with your kids.
2. Make New Traditions
This is going to be a tough holiday for everyone, especially if it’s your first one without an SO. Your kids’ happiness is top of your priority list, so keep them occupied during the day with new traditions. Maybe that means eating cinnamon rolls while watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or running to the first Black Friday sale of the season with your wish lists in hand. This is your day to make what you, and your kids, want without worrying about anyone else.
3. Get Some Store Bought Help
It’s hard enough to get weeknight dinner done, let alone a Thanksgiving feast. Simply stop by the store to pick up some premade dishes (or, if you have time, make the dishes beforehand and throw them in the freezer.) Foods like like mashed potatoes, stuffing, and even turkey can be bought pre-cooked and only require a few steps to make them table ready.
4. Spend Time With Family
There is nothing more heartbreaking as a single parent than spending a holiday without your child. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve done it or how much fun you know they’re having, it’s so hard. But being alone on Thanksgiving will only make it harder. If your little ones aren’t with you, make sure you’re with your family or friends to enjoy the day, and remember everything you have to be thankful for.
5. Skip The Traditions
Do you spend Thanksgiving battling with a picky eater? Rather than sticking to the traditional fare, serve food your kids actually like. If your kids’ favorites are pumpkin pie, macaroni and cheese, and rolls, then just make those. Throw a frozen pizza in the oven and eat in front of a Christmas movie. Thanksgiving is about being together, not about the food or traditions. Enjoy the quality time.
6. Invite Other Single Moms
There is nothing better as a mom than having other mom friends to commiserate and be with, and the same goes for single moms. If you and your kids will be alone on Thanksgiving day, think about inviting over other single moms, even if they don’t have their children with them. Being with others who know what you’re going through and are willing to roll up their sleeves and roll out some dough in the name of togetherness is a beautiful thing.
7. Celebrate Another Day
If you won’t have your kid on Thanksgiving day, that doesn’t mean you have to give up the holiday. Celebrate on a day you have your kid with you and pretend it’s Thanksgiving. You can still do all of your traditions and make your favorite dishes, and you’ll get to spread the holiday cheer out a bit more.
This holiday can be tough, no matter how much you plan to make it better. If you’re having a hard time, with or without your kids, it can help to get a new perspective. Head off to a soup kitchen or find a group that’s accepting volunteers to feed the homeless, pass out clothes, or spend time at a nursing home on Thanksgiving. Seeing other people who are appreciative of the love and generosity you have to give can remind you what the day is all about and make you feel less alone.
9. Ask For Help
I believe that you can do it on your own, but don’t be afraid to ask for help. Enlist family members to bring dishes, or go to someone else’s house to celebrate the day. You don’t have to do it alone.