Planning for Christmas
We're at the beginning of the Christmas run up, when it's all about making plans and budgeting. Here are some practical and financial things to be aware of, especially if money is tight this Christmas.
To help with your budgeting, the Money Advice Service have a free online Christmas Money Planner that can help you budget for the festive season.
If you run into serious problems with money at Christmas, help is available for food and children's gifts. Some local Salvation Army centres donate gifts to families in difficult circumstances at Christmas. Similarly many community groups, local newspapers and radio stations run Christmas toy appeals, so it is worth doing a bit of research or contacting Citizen's Advice.
If you're worried you won''t have enough cash to buy food, there is a network of food banks operating across the UK, which are there to help. You can contact the Trussell Trust to find your nearest foodbank.
If you are on a low income, you may be able to claim a one-off discount from your electricity supplier under the Warm Home Discount Scheme. Some suppliers have already closed their schemes for this winter but others are still currently open, so it is worth contacting your supplier to ask. You can also apply for a Cold Weather Payment if you receive certain benefits, such as Income Support, ESA, or Universal Credit.
Planning contact arrangements for your children
Contact arrangements between parents at Christmas can be difficult, and this year the coronavirus pandemic creates extra challenges. It is worth making a plan well ahead of time, taking into account how things like local restrictions and social bubbles may affect how you will spend Christmas. You can read more about these on our coronavirus page.
If your children are old enough, you could include them in the planning to help them feel more secure about how things will work out.
Our information pages have lots of extra advice and information that might help you make plans for the Christmas period, including our FAQs about contact arrangements.
Times when your children are away
It can be very difficult when the children are with their other parent over Christmas. The best way to deal with this is often to go see people or get involved in activities like volunteering, but again, COVID-19 makes that extra hard to do this year.
Advance planning is a good idea here too, making plans to see friends and family that you are able to see safely, such as those in your bubble.
You may find it helpful to get in touch with other single parents in our online forum or on our Facebook page. Many local Gingerbread groups are also currently operating using Whatsapp and other online chat apps. You may also wish to try websites such as netmums or dad.info, where you can chat to other parents and get advice and support.
We''ll be adding new Christmas pages full of single parent advice on our website soon, so keep an eye out. As ever, if you have questions or concerns, you can talk to us for free on our single parent helpline.