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Getting through the holiday loneliness as a single parent

Single parenting can be a lonely experience. We are smack dab in the midst of the holiday season and loneliness can be amplified, single parent or not. Even those of us with large families can feel as though no one understands that sense of being alone, in spite of being surrounded by relatives.   

For the most part, I have found life as a single parent empowering. I do what I want, when I want, how I want – it’s great! There’s a certain amount of strength and pride that comes from doing it all and keeping other humans alive. While I wouldn’t trade it for the world, it’s been tough.   

Over the course of my single parenting journey, holidays have come and gone. Each one imbued with its own spice of loneliness. The seasons have gotten easier but the loneliness is still there.   

I remember (very vividly) my first Christmas morning without my kids. The deafening silence I woke up to that morning was enough to make my skin crawl. I hated it. 

I knew single parenting would be hard and that it meant finding a new normal, but I didn’t realize how deep the loneliness could reach. Even the word “single parent” signifies that one will be alone, but having kids thrown into the mix should make it less lonely, right?   

Wrong.   

Kids are not a replacement for a romantic partner or friend. They are your kids and you are the parent. Although my kids are approaching the tipping point age where interactions are more friendly, the basic dynamic never changes. And they are finding their own independent way in the world.  

Loneliness comes and goes and often pops up during the most normal experiences—while I’m sitting on the couch binge-watching Netflix, at celebrations or parties when I’m in the midst of friends, in the dead of night when the only thing I hear are the cars outside and my dog snoring next to me.   

Single parent life can be lonely, but it’s not the end of the world. While loneliness can be related to depression, this post speaks specifically to those mini-moments of loneliness that occur in daily life.   

If you are struggling with mental illness, please know that you’re not alone and reach out for help.   

Here are three practices that help me get through lonely times:  

  1.  Reach out to friends or go out solo. Go out, socialize, talk over your beverage of choice… but do something! My friends have gotten me through dark moments when they didn’t even know it. Other times, I’ve gotten lost in conversations with nature in the form of a walk. For me, surroundings impact my overall happiness. Get up. Go out. Pick up the phone. Do something.  
  2. Name it, feel it, and let it out. By naming what you’re feeling you are validating yourself and when you feel it, you’re allowing yourself to process the emotion. We tend to run away from feeling the not so fun emotions because they aren’t… fun. I’ve learned that stuffing my feelings wasn’t productive and my emotions came out sideways. I drank too much, I isolated, I was hard on myself. My not so fun feelings ended up coming out anyway. So let them out. They will pass. Which leads me to #3…
  3. Remember that this feeling of loneliness is going to pass. The only constant is change. Feelings and circumstances pass. There will come a time when we will look back and reflect on this period. The adventures, the mishaps, the struggle, and the triumph. When I get hit with loneliness especially hard, I ask myself, “What can I do today that will make my future self laugh (or proud or etc)?” 

What would you add to the list?   

Until next time, I hope you have a wonderful holiday season. Be good to yourself and see you in 2023!  

 

 

Beth Montgomery
Beth Montgomery is a single mom of teens and is a Jill of all trades who lives in the Harrisburg area. While she wasn't born anywhere near here (or even in this country), she calls Central PA home (for now) and writes about her journeys through adulting... with kids. Visit her online at www.singleparentproject.com or connect with her on the socials.

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