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How to Have the Best Thanksgiving Ever While Solo Parenting

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Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, and if you’re anything like me, the thought of solo parenting, especially on a holiday, feels a little daunting. In this article, you’ll learn my top three tips to have the best Thanksgiving ever while solo parenting (and it’s not what you expected!).

I was raised where every Thanksgiving, we had a big beautiful spread of different dishes surround by a table full of family members. It was often chaotic but full of love, lots of food and family. It felt like the best Thanksgiving every year.

The last few years have been a very different scene. As a military family, I’m no longer surrounded by my extended family. I’ve even lost my “small community” that I had built in Texas when we moved to New Jersey last year.

This has taught me a few things about holidays and how to still make them extra special despite your circumstances.

The Deployment that Started my Non-Traditional Thanksgivings

Two years ago, my husband was deployed right before Thanksgiving. This meant the family Thanksgiving dinner I have envisioned that year quickly went out the window. I had to scramble to call in family from out of state to come to my rescue (and the kids) in Texas. We literally had one a weeks notice from phone call to deployment.

We said our goodbyes to daddy at the door before he left for deployment in the wee hours of the morning.

My father-in-law so graciously jumped in his truck and drove from West Virginia down to Texas for our first round of family help during that deployment.

You could say that I was feeling anything but grateful that year. I had 6 month old that wasn’t sleeping through the night, and 3 other children that were trying to adjust to daddy not being home (while we were planning a move half way across the country and trying to list our house to sell).

Don’t get me wrong, I was truly so thankful for my father-in-law that year but in hindsight, I was super stressed and the thought of even cooking a Thanksgiving dinner was the last thing I wanted to do. It was NOT the best Thanksgiving ever at the time.

Our Deployment Thanksgiving Dinner That Started It All

I could’ve sucked it up and cooked a big Thanksgiving spread that year… BUT I didn’t. As someone who loves to cook, the decide was a hard but ultimately I decided it wasn’t worth the hassle. I mean my father-in-law and myself would’ve enjoyed it but my kids were all ages, 5 and under, and let’s be real, they probably wouldn’t have eat half of the traditional Thanksgiving food.

So what did I decide to do?

I went to our favorite Texas BBQ spot, Rudy’s, and brought home a meal that

  1. I didn’t have to cook and
  2. Our whole family enjoyed

I was THANKLFUL for Rudy’s that year, and my kids were extra thankful for their favorite BBQ (which they devoured).

I’d say this was a turning point for my idea of Thanksgiving dinners but honestly.. I was in survival mode and I was just glad to have food that year for Thanksgiving that I wasn’t cooking.

My Second Year Solo Parenting on Thanksgiving

Fast forward to 2022, and here we are again, my husband was no longer deployed but he was working long hours in the hospital and wouldn’t be home for Thanksgiving…. It was another year of me holding on to the hopes of the best Thanksgiving and realizing that my vision of that needed to change.

Just for reference, we had only been in our new town for roughly 4 months at this point, I had not developed a community, nor did I have family nearby.

It was another year of the kids and I home on Thanksgiving, without my husband, except this year, my older two were learning a lot about Thanksgiving at school and asking what we would be doing for Thanksgiving at home.

I hadn’t decided exactly what I was going to do, I could cook a Turkey and all the traditional sides but it got me to thinking back to the year before…

I didn’t stress about cooking a big meal the kids wouldn’t eat that year and everyone enjoyed their food..

Which sparked a new idea…

What Food Are You Thankful For?

I asked the kids what food they were thankful for.

They each got to pick one food that they were thankful for and that’s what I cooked for our Thanksgiving dinner.

Our Thanksgiving spread consisted of tacos, pizza, and meatballs with bananas for dessert. Was this a traditional thanksgiving spread? No..

But the best part, everyone ate, everyone was happy, and everyone was grateful that they were eating their favorite food while we created some “non-traditional” Thanksgiving memories together.

This Thanksgiving, the best one yet!

I’ve learned a lot over the last two years of solo parenting on Thanksgiving. This year, I’m making it the best Thanksgiving yet. It may not be a Thanksgiving that a lot of people picture or even one that they’d enjoy but it’s ours.

This“tradition” of picking your favorite food, is one that I’ll be doing again this year while solo parenting yet another Thanksgiving.

I’ve decided, I will cook a ham and probably mashed potatoes (because they’re my favorite) but I also know that I can use the leftover ham for other dinner ideas over the weekend.

The kids have already started trying to come up with their favorite foods for Thanksgiving. They haven’t settled on anything yet, but so far the ideas are: pizza bagel bites, tacos, spaghetti (Chef Boyardee), sausage & pepperoni pizza, and Paw Patrol yogurt.

I’m sure it’s going to be another interesting mix but hey, it’s memorable!

My hope is that maybe my story will help you get through the holiday while solo parenting too! It know how lonely it can feel. I also know the pressure to prepare a big Thanksgiving feast when your time is already spread so thin.

My words of wisdom to you: “Make it work for you! Don’t add necessary stress to the holidays. You’re doing a great job!”

How You Can Have the Best Thanksgiving This Year

Now that I’ve given you a little back story…

The secret to having the best Thanksgiving ever is letting go of the idea of a “perfect Thanksgiving family dinner.”

It doesn’t have to be perfect, heck it doesn’t even have to be a traditional Thanksgiving dinner…

Remember, Thanksgiving is not about the flawless recipes or immaculate table settings; it’s about cherishing the moments, embracing the imperfections, and being grateful for the love and laughter shared around the table.

Here are my top 3 tips for you to embrace this year while solo parenting:

  1. Be Flexible
  2. Be Realistic
  3. Embrace the season your in

Okay, so what exactly do I mean by all of these?

Be Flexible

When your solo parenting the name of the game is flexibility. I can make plans with the best of intentions but without a doubt, something will go array. Be prepared for it. Don’t be rigid while solo parenting, be flexible and roll with it.

For instance, you had planned to bake a turkey but you wake up and your toddler is sick with a fever… Maybe you call off the turkey, tend to your toddler, & maybe even order in for the day to make your job easier.

Being flexible is what can turn a potentially stressful day into one that is manageable.

Be Realistic

I swear “being realistic” is one of my motto’s in life. I’m constantly trying to remind myself that all these big dreams and plans I have aren’t always realistic and I need to come back down to earth.

To save your sanity this holiday season, be realistic from the beginning.

If you are home alone and solo parenting plan for success.

Maybe your kids are old enough where you can still cook a Thanksgiving feast and you can enjoy it together.

However, if your in the world of little ones, finding the time to cook a Thanksgiving feast may not be realistic and trying to hold yourself to those standards is just setting yourself up for a lot of unneeded stress. If you’re really wanting a Thanksgiving feast, reach out to friends and family if you have them nearby. If that’s not an option, may you look into local stores to see if you can buy a premade meal this year.

Remember, there’s a time and season for everything. Maybe this year isn’t your season to cook a feast but your day will come.

Embrace the Season Your In

As I mentioned above, acknowledge and honor the season your in. Maybe this is the year you’re finally able to prepare a feast or maybe it’s a year you order out. Whatever season your in, just know, it doesn’t last forever.

Every single one of us are in a different season of life with different circumstances. It’s important at we embrace that season while we’re in it, and be grateful (even when it can sometimes seem so hard).

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you have a fantastic Thanksgiving celebration with your family. Thank you for all your support and reading my blog, I truly appreciate each and every one of you.

Keep an eye out in the coming weeks, I’ll be switching gears and starting with Christmas decor and recipes soon!

For more inspiration on nurturing homes & hearts, join me on Instagram and Pinterest.

If you have an idea for a holiday craft or recipe you’d love to see on the blog, let me know here and I’d be happy to try it!

If you’re looking for so yummy fall inspired desserts, check out my Pumpkin Pie Parfait or my Cranberry Orange Bread!

If you’re looking for another military read, check out 10 Empowering Life Lessons My Military Children Taught Me.


Who doesn’t love a good freebie, especially one that’ll keep our kids busy.

I’ve created a coloring page for you (well your kids) to enjoy this Thanksgiving while keeping those little hands busy.

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