Description: Being a single mother is a challenge. But with the corona-virus pandemic persisting, it’s harder than ever to balance work, life, and childcare. Here’s some sound advice to stay centered and look after your loved ones during these unprecedented times.
There has never been an easy time to be a single mother.
However, since the coronavirus pandemic spread worldwide early in 2020, being a single mother felt like playing the game in hard mode. For most of us, managing to balance life with childcare was already a tightrope walk. Still, at least many of us had some help to fall back on.
Before Covid-19, if we wanted or needed a break, we had people we could lean on, be they friends, family, or even a play date for our children helped. Once the pandemic hit, many of those avenues of support for a healthy work-life balance ended abruptly. They were even unsafe for any lone responsible parent. So, we do what single mothers always do: grit our teeth and adapt.
Here are some of the lessons learned from figuring out how to balance life and raising children while the world outside seemed to be on fire.
Take Time to Balance Life by Dealing with Stress
Single mothers have to work.
After our children, it’s the next thing we build our schedules and lifestyles around. In the pandemic, most of us had to change the way we worked. That felt hard—especially when we’re trying to balance life with work while still meeting our children’s emotional needs.
After going to great lengths to provide structure for our kids, having our regular work patterns ripped up by the roots is a lot for anyone to handle.
Working from home is a new experience for many of us, and we were ill-prepared for the impact the monotony of scenery would have on our productivity. Give yourself time off from work to decompress, balance life, and make sure you spend at least an hour a day doing something you enjoy that doesn’t involve work or parenting. Perhaps, even visit a dating site and put some romance back in your life.
Of course, we all know making plans in advance can be risky. Our kids can suddenly (yet predictably) decide that we’re doing something else that day. However, it’s vital to give yourself some time away from responsibilities, relieve stress, and prevent overload from taxing our nerves. Any activity can be a break. It could be watching some TV, reading a good book, or sharing a glass of wine with a friend over a video call.
Acknowledge When You Are in Survival Mode
One of the most challenging things for a single mother is the nagging feeling of guilt. You know, that relentless whisper in the back of your mind that says you’re never doing enough. Well, since we’re all in a global pandemic, it pays to acknowledge that some of your priorities are going to suffer; there are simply factors outside of your control. You might have read articles at the beginning of the year about what a great time it is to take stock of life, an opportunity to redecorate the bedroom or learn a new language. Guess what? Vegas odds are that the authors of these articles are not raising a family by themselves! Accepting that you might not be able to parent at one hundred percent efficiency isn’t a cop-out—it’s healthy! And that acceptance ensures you keep your sanity.
There will be some days where you can’t get everyone cleaned, fed, and in bed on time. And that’s fine. You may not be able to give your children five full days of homeschooling every week. That’s completely okay! Do whatever is realistic to keep your balance—and your sanity. If you’re keeping your home life ticking while ensuring your kids are safe, healthy, and rested while still working a job, then you already deserve an award!
Balance Life by Finding Your Village
Just because you can’t see people face-to-face like pre-COVID, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t ask for help. You might have to get creative, but it will be worth it. Here are a few ideas:
- Stay in contact with your child’s school and reach out to teaching professionals for help with schoolwork and behavioral issues.
- Schedule video calls with your children’s grandparents and other relatives to help maintain a sense of normality for all of you.
- Have a family member entertain your children over video for a spell so you can squeeze in that online grocery order.
- Make these SOS calls regularly to help balance life.
- Provide your children with structure. They sorely need it to compensate for usual routines disrupted by the pandemic.
Most importantly, try and set your kids up with video calls with their school friends. Making friends and socialization is incredibly important for your child’s development, and probably what they’ll be missing most from disrupted routines. Whether sharing a meal over video or getting children to play games with each other online, helping them stay connected to their peer groups will do wonders for their mental health. And an extra perk for you is a well-deserved break.
Related reading: "Self-Care for Single Moms and Dads."
Balance Life When Juggling Work and Parenting
Balancing your work with parenting and homeschooling can be a lot for a single parent. If your career hours (even remotely) are inflexible and stressful, speak to your employer about creating a more flexible work schedule. Think about what will best help balance your time between your professional responsibilities and looking after your children. You might not be employed by a company that advocates for a work-life balance. Still, any employer that values you most likely will offer you a more flexible schedule under these extraordinary conditions.
If you’re working from home, set up a system of visual indicators for your kids to let them know when you’re working on an assignment or in a meeting. This cue could be a special color of the scarf on a doorknob or a note stuck to your laptop cover to let them know you’re working. Kids respond very well to structure and visual aids. If you provide your children with the toolkit to understand when you’re trying to balance life with work, you might be surprised how cooperative they can be.
Related reading: “Why Work-Life Balance Isn’t the Best Solution.”
Get Ahead of Behavioral Problems in Children
With your children cooped up all day with less to look forward to, misbehavior may increase, and you might be dealing with more tantrums than normal. When children act out, don’t blame yourself or your children; it’s perfectly normal given the pandemic's extraordinary circumstances. They’re trying to figure out how to find their new normal, too. If your children are spending more time on screens than usual, it’s not the worst thing for them. It can be a source of comfort that distracts them from these unusual times. And a little extra encouragement can go a long way, especially since many of their everyday opportunities for bolstering their self-esteem among friends or classmates are restricted.
Conclusion: Create Your Own Work-Life Definitions
All of us during the coronavirus pandemic are making up the rules as we go along. In a sense, adults are more helpless than ever during this event since the only choice seems to be to wait and see what tomorrow brings while making the best of today. No two families are alike. There is no golden rule for single parents, no guidebook of how to navigate these uncertain times we’re living in. Find out what brings your family happiness and alleviates stress. After all, isn’t that why a work-life balance is essential in the first place?
This period is not a time for anyone to push themselves to their limits. It’s a time to look after each other while making sure that the people we love stay safe, healthy, and a little bit less lonely. Do all that, and you and your children can stay safe until the world returns to its regularly scheduled programming.
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