Inside: Being a single parent during a pandemic with social distancing, quarantine, and stay at home orders is beyond overwhelming. How do we handle all these complexities? Guest poster and author, Nikki Henderson has 5 tips on how to survive social distancing as a single parent during a pandemic.
In March, I watched the headline come across the screen, indicating that leaders made the hard decision to close schools within a week. I was about a week into working remotely as well.
The mental adjustment of realizing that I was going to work from home indefinitely, coupled with school closing, slowly dawned on me. I remember waking up one morning and walking to my two sons’ room to look over them as they slept.
Being a single mom of a twelve-year-old, and thirteen-year-old boy for over ten years, I have learned to let them rest until they are ready to rise when school is closed!
But that morning, when I went to their rooms, I remember standing at the door and feeling this new uncertainty about the weeks ahead.
As the pandemic of COVID-19 escalated, some of my mornings were occupied standing in lines at local supermarkets and hoping to get in before the shelves were emptied of essential items.
Single parenting becomes up close and real during a crisis, and now more than ever, there is potential to feel alone as we attempt to navigate the “new normal” all around us.
This season we are in can serve as a breeding ground of loneliness in the life of a single parent. Social and physical distancing may have closed doors to spending time with family and friends who typically filled in some space in our lives outside of our children.
However, it’s important to remember that God is with us, and we are never alone.
five key pointers that can help you survive social distancing as a single parent
1. Remain Prayerful
During this time, worry and anxiety seek to dominate our minds. We are bombarded daily with media updates regarding the pandemic and how it is impacting the world.
We must remain up to date as single parents to make the appropriate decisions for our homes. At the same time, we must ensure that we do not allow the worry and anxiety to be the driving force in our homes.
I have found it helpful to pray with my sons and openly share our needs with God through prayer. By doing this, I teach them the godly principle of prayer and dependency on God as I seek God for his grace.
2. Spend time outdoors with your children
Now more than ever, it is vital to spend time outdoors when you can do it safely with your children.
Before the pandemic, I spent a lot of time doing indoor activities with my sons. After about two weeks on quarantine, a walk in our neighborhood was a welcome sight for my sons and me. This became our daily routine for fitness and gave us a chance to spend time together in a different environment.
While we are limited to low-traffic areas, we try to keep it fresh by changing the routine when we can and doing activities while outdoors. Just being able to pass by someone in a car and extend a wave provides a feeling of community during this time to combat loneliness.
3. Ensure to celebrate virtually
Despite the distance and having limited social interaction, it’s still important to celebrate important days like birthdays and school achievements as well.
This not only promotes a sense of routine for children but also creates virtual bonds of togetherness which can combat feelings of loneliness.
My son recently had his twelfth birthday, and he was initially sad because he would not be able to see our family, who was located eight hours away. To brighten his day, I pre-scheduled a video conference call with our family and created an electronic invitation with cute pictures. I sent it out to everyone in advance, just as if we were planning a party! At the designated time that evening, my family logged on, we sang happy birthday, and he opened his gifts on the call.
Small moments like this during this time can remove the barriers that quarantine can create.
4. Take time off to “be” with your children
Many parents may need to work from home during this time, and it is an extreme balancing act!
I suddenly went from being a working mom going into an office – to a homeschool teacher and cafeteria cook alongside all my other duties at home that already existed!
The daily grind of working and being on quarantine with children can be stressful. Taking time off from work periodically becomes vital to surviving this time.
Even one extra day off periodically can relieve some of the stress you and your children feel as you try to juggle the balls in the air. Spending time continues to cultivate the atmosphere of love in your home, which is needed for you and your child to navigate emotionally.
5. Talk as much as you need to!
Social distancing can impede physical contact with friends and loved ones, but it can’t stop the ability to talk to others!
I’ve tried to consciously not allow myself to get caught into the web of letting physical distance separate me from sharing in meaningful conversation with others. Setting up a time to talk is healthy for ensuring we remain aware of where we are in this journey.
Let’s not forget to spend time talking to the ones we love who are closest to us during this time – our children. Taking time to share at the dinner table is vital or even just popping up at their rooms for impromptu conversation will help.
The more we share, the more we can receive the much-needed connection with others that we are missing during this time.
Single parenting during quarantine
Single parenting during quarantine is uncharted territory for most of us.
We all have lessons we will learn along the way from strategies we use during this time. Some will work, and others may not be as successful!
But at the end of it all, we must remember that we are never alone. God has provided the strength we need to push through this season.
Regardless of how long social distancing will last, we can remain emotionally close to those we love.
About the author
Nikki Henderson is an author and motivational speaker who seeks to share a message of God’s love and restoration.
Nikki published her first book entitled Moments with God: Short Stories for the Soul of a Woman in 2014, and she released her second book, Storm Clouds are Passing: Hold On Until Change Comes in August 2017. Nikki recently released her third book in June 2020, entitled My Greatest Blessings: Memoirs of a Single Mom.
You can find out more information about Nikki’s books at www.mendingheartsmatters.com.