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Home > Popular Stories > > How to Handle Being a Single Parent During COVID-19

How to Handle Being a Single Parent During COVID-19

No matter the size of your family, the coronavirus pandemic is tough on everyone right now. Especially for single parents who are now in charge of managing kids, their education, and their entertainment, all while still trying to work and run a household, COVID-19 can seem like some sort of nightmare.

Whether you are dealing with sudden unemployment, the stresses of managing an erratic workforce, or the anxieties of what will be left of your industry when the dust settles, adding on the isolationism from other adults and single parents in your network can feel very overwhelming.

There’s no magic secret that will make all of this instantly easier for you. We’re focusing on tips for finding mental health help, balancing work and playtime, and handling difficult childlike behavior.

Step 1: Accept It

If you spend time trying to deny the coronavirus or being angry that it is happening, you will never be able to focus on other things at hand. Acceptance might sound odd in the face of a challenging situation, but when you make time to still accept it without judgment, you can focus on other things in your life. This can also include accepting the situation, your anger, your frustration, and your lack of control.

When you embrace radical acceptance, you’ll be able to:

  • Acknowledge that you are living in survival mode, and therefore, be kinder to yourself and your feelings. You don’t need to convince yourself everything is amazing and happy right now. You need to dispel the myth that this is a good time to work on things and turn into a survival mode that helps you get by.
  • Accept your current parenting abilities. As a single parent, there is only so much you can do in isolationism. Some days will be better than other days, and if you can be happy if you set the bar low with your parenting, you will feel better about your experience every day.
  • Settle for acceptable academics. You can’t be a single parent, a teacher, and a full-time employee. It’s impossible. Therefore, it’s ok to prioritize your kids’ academics three times per week instead of five. You need to be able to still earn a living so that your family can eat, which means that academics might not always come first right now. Cut yourself some slack.
  • Get back to the basics. Instead of making special dinosaur sandwiches or turning on TV first thing in the morning for your kids, think about what needs to get done: nutritious breakfasts, quiet work environments, school assignments, and so forth. Get back to a basic routine that helps you and your kids thrive to the best of your ability. It’s ok if you can’t find time to go above and beyond right now with playground trips, etc.
  • Find some time for yourself. Yes, the cliché of setting aside some “me-time” is a psychological phenomenon that you will need to survive this. If you try and go, go, go with no break for yourself or your own respite, you are going to crack. No, you can’t go to the spa, but yes, you can wake up and meditate alone in your room before you start the day. Treat yourself where you can.
  • Minimize screen time. Social media has proven to create a feeling of depression, anxiety, and FOMO in people. Spending time glued to phones right now will exacerbate the feeling of panic as news stories litter timelines. Remember that this is an unusual situation, but it is not one that is going to last forever.

Ask for Help

You can’t do it all and you need to accept that. Even now, you have support networks at your disposal. They include:

  • Your child’s teacher or school psychologist will be able to provide you with tips and insight right now.
  • Your own personal therapist will be able to help you work through your fears and anxieties.
  • Your family and friends can set up FaceTime call with your kids so they are still seeing their favorite people. Even if it’s just 15-minutes per day, this can establish some normalcy for your family and make grandparents, etc. feel more connected to their loved ones, too. You can also set up virtual playdates for your kids so they can be entertained with their friends.
  • You can reach out to local libraries, etc. and see what virtual classes they are offering every week.

Make a Plan

You need to speak up and let your employer know you are also home, alone, with two kids. If you are feeling overwhelmed by playing teacher and employee, you can do the following:

  • Talk to your employer and let them know your situation. Ask if you can work earlier or later hours so you can also spend time helping your kids learn and so forth.
  • Use visual aids that tell your kids when you are busy on a phone call. Maybe it’s a little light outside your bedroom. This way, your kids will learn to respect your time, as well as entertain themselves while you are working. After a while, you can do this for longer periods of time.

Managing Your Kids’ Anxiety

COVID-19 is hard on kids, too. They don’t fully understand this and they are scared. Here are a few ways to manage their behavior problems:

  • You don’t always have to intervene. Every single temper tantrum doesn’t need your attention. In fact, allowing the children to work it out on their own can be the best benefit of all. Consider noise-canceling headphones or some similar product.
  • Expect some regression. Your kids are scared, which is why they are going to act up, no matter how developed they might be. If you expect them to act out, you’ll be less surprised when they do. Remember, they are stressed out, too.
  • Provide them with praise. When you catch your kids behaving, doing chores, or completing homework, be sure to praise them. Pay attention to their good behavior and they will notice.

Figure Out Your Own System

It takes time to figure out what works best for you and your family. However, following these tips above will surely help you with COVID-19 parenting, especially if you are doing it alone.

About the Author:

David Schatzkamer, LMHC, RPT-S is the director of the Center for Play Therapy. David is a licensed mental health counselor and clinical supervisor, with distinguished knowledge in providing play therapy and counseling to children of all ages, as well as their family members. David has devoted his life’s work to mastering play therapy techniques and providing care to children and their families.

    Want to learn more about this business? Send them a direct inquiry.

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