Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for empty nesters to find themselves alone during the holidays, whether that holiday is Thanksgiving or Christmas. As our children grow up, they have other claims on their holidays. They may need to stay and work, for example, or visit a spouse’s parents. We may live far away from other family members or feel estranged from our family for various reasons.
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If that’s the case for you, I feel your pain. For years, as a single mom, my holidays often had lonely periods while my kids spent time with their dad. I’d go from being frantically busy preparing for the holiday to a happy celebration time to a too-quiet house in what felt like a span of five minutes.
I learned a few ways to cope with the loneliness of being alone during the holidays during that time. I hope the following tips can help you.
Find an Activity to Do on the Holiday
I finally started planning ahead and looking for activities to fill my time by reaching out to my Meetup groups to see if anyone else was free. Meetup Groups are life-savers to those of us alone at the holidays! Many groups are filled with people who are new to town and looking for other people to hang out with during the holidays.
One group I belonged to had a Christmas Day potluck every year. Thanks to Meetup, I once spent Thanksgiving Night at a comedy show laughing at turkey jokes instead of sitting at home crying into leftover champagne. There is indeed a group for any interest you might have.
If You Can’t Find an Activity, then Plan a Special Day Just for You
If you can’t find an activity you’d like to jump on, then plan a perfect day alone at home just for you. If you want to stay in all day and play board games alone while eating leftover Christmas cookies, well, that’s absolutely your prerogative. Just make sure you’re enjoying yourself!
Make sure you’ve got the most comfortable set up and all the snacks and drinks you need. My perfect alone day would involve lots of books and movies gathered for the occasion. The outfit of the day would be soft cotton PJs, and all meals would consist of Prosecco and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. I’d read all the newspapers, watch all the dog shows, and fall asleep on my soft, comfy couch during a Harry Potter movie.
The point here is this one: If you’re alone on a holiday with no real plans, then turn it into the day of your dreams. Celebrate by yourself!
It’s a cliche, but it really does help take your mind off your own loneliness when you reach out to others. And it’s so empowering to be working with 100s or even 1000s of other people to bring something good into the world. Atlanta has a few great volunteer opportunities over the holidays, and I’m sure your town does as well. Check out VolunteerMatch for opportunities in your area or check the local free weekly paper and see if you can’t find something there.
Reach Out for Support Online
There are so many active Facebook groups these days just for empty nesters and women over 40 and 50. Simply search for “empty nest” in the Facebook search bar and join the ones that look promising to you. I can guarantee you that you’ll find women online who are eager to chat day or night, even on a holiday.
I have a list of some of my favorites here that you can use as a starting point.
Spend Time Getting to Know Yourself Again
I’ve got a free book filled with journaling activities designed to help you to get to know yourself again and find out just who you really are now that you’re no longer just a mom. These exercises are designed to help you pinpoint your goals and create a vision for your life. What better time to focus on yourself than when you have the gift of some alone time?
You can sign up below.