Home Alone: Conquering Loneliness During the Holidays

Home Alone:  Conquering Loneliness During the Holidays

The holidays can be one of the loneliest times of the year for solo parents. Some of us miss being with our kids because they’re with the other parent for part of the holidays. Deciding what to get our kids, planning and shopping on our own can heighten the sense of loneliness. Sometimes it can feel like the world has gone to a magical place while you’re left on the sidelines looking in on what used to be. Home alone is a very accurate description of what many of us feel like. Alone in an empty house that used to be filled with so much Christmas magic. 

Anticipating Loneliness This Christmas

The holidays can really amplify loneliness. It’s a time when family connection and togetherness are high on everyone’s priority list. But if you’re a solo parent and no longer with your partner, it can really heighten the feeling of just how lonely you are and the awareness that you’re by yourself. 

If you don’t have family in town, who do you spend your time with? Do you attend the same holiday parties you used to when you were with your ex? Do you go to holiday events solo or stay home because you don’t have someone to bring? 

And what about your kids? Sometimes, just thinking about how your children are experiencing the holidays in a new way can bring waves of loneliness. If you grew up with a family unit in-tact and have fond memories of Christmases together, laughter, and family traditions, it’s hard not to feel sad that your own child doesn’t get to experience the same thing. It can bring so much heaviness to our hearts—it’s not the same as growing up with two parents.

For Solo Parent Elizabeth, the saddest part about being alone during the Christmas season is knowing that there’s only one other person in the entire world who loves her son in the same way she does. And that person is someone she can’t connect with anymore. 

Feeling that loneliness for our kids can create an ache—you want to make a great Christmas for your child, but you also can’t compensate for what the other parent may or may not be doing. You may even feel alone in trying to carry the burden of making Christmas magical and joyful for your kids on your own. 

Four Solutions to Help You Conquer Loneliness

This loneliness thing can be a serious challenge walking into the holidays. But there are ways to help you enjoy Christmas in this new season (instead of wishing it away). 

Here are four ideas that will help you conquer the ache of loneliness:

1.  Serve and reach out to others

When we take our focus off ourselves and start doing things for others, loneliness takes the backseat. Not only does it help your mind and heart, but it can also be a great example for your kids. 

Solo Parent Amber chose to put together Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes every year with her kids. They would make it a contest and try to outdo the number of boxes they put together from the previous year. “Giving to and serving others was one of the ways that felt really good to me as a mom.” Imparting that lesson of giving to her kids, reminding themselves that it’s not all about them felt really good. 

But serving doesn’t have to look like packing shoeboxes. Find ways to serve in your community. Call local churches and ask them what they need or how you can help. Visit a nursing home and spend time with the elderly. Serving others is a great way to combat the loneliness in your life because it brings meaning and purpose to your season. 

2.  Build community

Christmastime can be hard for so many solos because it highlights the fact that you’ve lost your community. Everyone is so busy with their family and schedules that it can feel even more isolating. But in order to build community and find community—especially around the holidays, you have to be proactive. You have to step outside of your comfort zone and even get a little vulnerable with others. 

Knowing when your loneliness usually hits is also super important. If you know that your kids are going to be with their mom or dad on Christmas day, finding someone to spend that time with is vital. If you’re close enough with people, you kind of know what’s going on in their lives. Having that community of people who “get it” and who understand what you’re going through definitely makes it a lot better to get through the loneliness together. 

Set yourself up with something to do whether that be a movie, or something else, so you don’t have to be alone. Fight the lie that you’re bothering others just by reaching out. And don’t wait until your loneliness hits to create a plan. If you know another single parent in your area, reach out to them. Invite them over for Christmas brunch and work through that loneliness together, despite how your Christmases were supposed to look. 

Solo Parent groups are a great way to build a community of people around you who are experiencing a similar situation. Groups meet seven days a week at all different times. Plug in and allow yourself to experience the beauty of community, being known, and seen.

3.  Create new memories

Creating new memories during Christmastime is key in combating loneliness. Instead of ruminating on the memories, traditions, and things you used to do as a unified family, create new memories that will take their place. 

Something Robert did with his daughters was to go through pictures from the year and create photo books. Not only did it help with loneliness at the time, but it gives them something they can look back on with fondness. 

Solo Parent Amber found herself really needing to connect with herself and God one year. So she decided to start a Christmas tradition that was just for her as she combatted loneliness: a Christmas cross. “I would take evergreen boughs, bind them together, and turn them into a beautiful Christmas cross and decorate it with a new theme each year. I’m really inspired by beauty and creativity so it was something literally just for me, for my soul care, to remember how to enjoy Christmas and to be reminded that the whole point of it was that Jesus came for a reason: redemption.”

Creating new memories is about finding things you can do that feed your spirit. And sometimes, those things are solely for you and not just your kids. Chip Dodd said loneliness is your need for a relationship with yourself, with others, and with God. So having a relationship with yourself to quell the loneliness is a beautiful thing. So even if you’re sitting there by yourself making Christmas crosses, going through boxes of ornaments, or baking cookies, that’s okay. 

4. Reframe how you look at Christmas 

Home alone might actually be exactly what your soul needs. Reframe that. Step into that. There is an intimate side to what happens at Christmas. If we can reframe it a little bit, it can help bring purpose to that loneliness we experience.

And at the end of the day, Emmanuel, God with us—is about this very intimate thing that happened. God came to be with us. Sometimes it’s not just about what we’re able to do with our kids, but there is some sacredness to alone time that is filling you with only something that God can fill. Christmas doesn’t have to be about a packed schedule, singing songs, and presents. It can be a very precious and intimate time that happens with God if we’re willing to settle in and reframe how we look at it. 

Solo parent: Walk into this season with the anticipation knowing that God is going to meet you right where you are. The loneliness is real, but our God comes close. Use these tips to help you when you are in those moments and remember that you are not alone. 

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