So you know a single parent? Not sure what to get them for Christmas? But you want to get them something they want? Something they really, really want? Well then, look no further, I have the perfect single mum Christmas gift guide and what’s more, there is something suitable for all wallets. (I’ve written this for single mums but they are all also perfect presents for single dads too).
1. Babysitting/ childcare vouchers.
It’s a no brainer right. The woman has only two pairs of hands and at least one child. She needs a break. So give her one. I don’t know if you can actually buy babysitting vouchers, but you can make some. When my niece was a baby I gave her parents some babysitting vouchers for Christmas, I figured she already had enough plastic tat to see her through another year, surely what would be really nice would be getting to spend time with me(!), and her parents having a break. Two points to note though, single mums tend to (have to) be very independent, that means they aren’t great at asking for help, so keep reminding them to use them up! Also, don’t assume they only want babysitting at night time, childcare during the day can be an even greater treat for parents. As much as they love their little darlings, they might want to miss out on some of the time when they are awake, rather than fast asleep.
One thing us single mums really seem to miss out on are photos of us and our little ones. More often than not there is literally no one else to hold the camera so this leaves single mums with a few crappy selfies and not much else. Doing this properly requires some planning – take some shots throughout the year and then print them up for Christmas. Last year a friend of mine put together a photo calendar with pictures of me and my son (and her kids too), it was quite probably one of the loveliest presents I’ve ever had. It wouldn’t have cost much, but it took a lot of thought and time, and that’s one sure fire way to make a single mum feel loved, plus I got some beautiful shots of me and my son that I couldn’t possibly have got on my own. If you don’t own a camera or think you’re shooting skills are lacking, you could always get them a voucher for a photo shoot.
3. Books about single parenting.
This is probably more for the children, but as single mums we’re generally the only people who read out kids books and it gets pretty annoying having no books which represent your own family story. Kids books about single parenting are few and far between. Us single parents have come to our situations in a whole host of different ways, sometimes divorce, sometimes choice, and sometimes surprise. You might need to search high and low for the ‘right’ kind of single parent book that suits your friend/ family member, but trust me it will be worth it. (Hint, hint, that means the typical mummy and daddy still love you but decided to live in separate houses and you’ll still see them both is a big NO, NO for many of us single/solo mums). I’ve listed a few good options here, and if you can find some nice single parent adult books for her too then all the better. When you live outside the nuclear norm (and despite there being two million of us, we are still far from the norm according to mainstream society) then having the chance to read about your own setup can be empowering.
4. Set her up on a date.
This gift idea might not be for everyone so you should probably make sure she’d appreciate this before you get too far in your planning. However, a lot of single parenting chat (in my friendship group anyway) is about dating and the trials and tribulations of (mainly) tinder. So far none of us appear to have been successful. Personally I’ve all but given up. So if you’re besties with a single parent, have a think about what type of man/woman she would be in to. Now scour your address book, face book profile and work email list to see if there is anyone, ANYONE, who might fit the bill. Maybe your own partner, or another friend knows someone who you think they could be suited to. Once you’ve got yourself a shortlist, get booking in some dates. For any real chance of success you’d probably need to combine this one with gift number 1.
5. Pamper her.
Single mums do everything for their kids and their homes. They lug the little ones round, do the DIY, shopping, cooking, all the works. As you can imagine this takes its physical toll on us as well as emotional. Whatsmore, we rarely get any physical touch from anyone other than a small person and that isn’t always the most loving. Pampering is the next best thing to a big warm hug or some tender touch. Get her a massage, a manicure, a makeover, whatever she’d appreciate. Since becoming a single parent I’ve rarely paid for any pampering, even a haircut is about a once a year occurrence. The other year a friend gave me massage voucher (plus a babysitting voucher, see gift number 1 – there’s a reason why it’s in the top spot). It was AMAZING! Us single parents might not all be living in poverty, but for most of us surviving on one income is a challenge and paying for anything for yourself gets sidelined. Give the girl some love!
6. Plan a weekend day trip together.
Weekends can be lonely times for single mums, all those part timers/ maternity leavers/ SAHMs who are keen to hang out in the week disappear back to their partners at the weekend and you’re left holding the baby – literally. Plan a nice daytrip. It doesn’t even have to cost any money. For single parents it often means a hell of a lot to be able to look forward to spending a day with friends. It doesn’t matter if you have kids or not, but make it kiddie friendly (unless of course you’re combining with gift number 1).
7. Suggest a holiday together.
Similar to gift number 6 but pushing the boat out a little further, why not suggest a holiday together. You don’t have to offer to pay for it (I’m thinking that’s out of most people’s price ranges for a Christmas present for a friend, but hey if you’re feeling flush and generous then go for it). Just like friends seem to fall by the wayside at weekends once you’re a single mum, friends who want to travel with you become rarer than sleep for a single mum. I’ve always been into my travel and scrimp and save on literally EVERY other aspect of my life to ensure I can still do this, but most people (apart from other single parents) no longer seem interested in going on a group jaunt. Make her day, ask her to go with you next time you’re planning something, single mums are still the same person they used to be, chances are if you used to holiday together before she’d still love to do it.
Saving the best one till last. I have no idea how you get this and certainly no idea how you wrap it up and fit it under a Christmas tree but if you can work it out then trust me, you will have made this woman’s Christmas.