This article aims to provide some tips on getting through the quarantine as a single parent; juggling children’s needs while complying with the CDC and local government guidelines.
As cases of COVID-19 continue to increase daily, parents are continuing to quarantine themselves and their children in hopes of preventing the spread of the virus. Many schools have announced they are canceling school for the remainder of the school year, leaving parents with anxious, bored, and energetic children.
For many single parents, working from home has quickly gone from a dream to a nightmare as they try to navigate keeping their children entertained with daily chores and workplace expectations. This likely also comes with a large economic burden for single parents whose children may otherwise receive free or reduced-price meals at school or typically share the burden of childcare costs with other families.
Here are 5 tips on getting through the quarantine as a single parent:
Team Up with Fellow Single Parents
Reaching out to fellow parents can be a great tool for both connecting with other children or potentially exchanging items. By reaching out on social media or other channels, parents have organized virtual playdates for their kids where they can play with their favorite toys over the internet.
Some apps, including Houseparty and Zoom allow groups to play games remotely. Alternatively, many neighborhoods are starting to report coming together to try to exchange items with other families with no limited contact.
Parents have coordinated days where they will batch-cook meals for the neighborhood and leave them on their neighbors’ doorsteps, or have coordinated book exchanges where they can leave books on each other’s doorsteps.
Finally, if single parents are in the “essential service” industries and still need to go in for shifts at work, trying to reach out to similarly positioned parents to coordinate shifts can help ease the burden. Overall, leaning on neighbors can help single parents feel less overwhelmed and isolated during the quarantine.
Create a Schedule
Creating a schedule can help both children and their parents establish a routine and create a sense of “normalcy” while quarantined. This does not necessarily mean planning out the day to the minute and packing it with specific activities.
It can be just working towards establishing a rhythm of eat, play, and sleep/quiet time during the day. This can also present the opportunity to try to set specific “work hours,” perhaps during the children’s nap times. By trying to carve out this time, parents can also have transparent conversations with their employers to set realistic expectations of when they will not be available and how the new work-from-home lifestyle will affect their ability to set and meet deadlines.
Scheduling can also help prioritize what the most important things are that need to get done that day, whether it is for work or with their children. One suggestion is to take a few minutes the night before and make a list of the three top priority items for the following day. This can help separate out to-do items into smaller, more manageable chunks. This strategy can also help single parents find that coveted time to treat themselves during the day, allowing them to defer lower priority items.
In addition to to-do items for parents, creating checklists for children during the day can also prove helpful. At the beginning of the day, parents can sit down with their children to create a checklist of items to do that day. If they complete the checklist that day, they may be rewarded with a “reward item,” such as their favorite snack or game.
Take Advantage of Free Activities
Many individuals and organizations are offering free or discounted services to families to help keep their kids entertained. Looking at local parent group online discussions can be a good starting place for local organizations. Otherwise, a quick online search yields a wide range of free activities currently being offered, depending on the age of the child, including the following:
– DIY Projects: KiwiCo, The Genius of Play, Happy Hooligans
– Art: Mo Williems’ Lunch Doodles, Super Coloring
– Movement: Cosmic Kids Yoga, GoNoodle
– Online Storytime: Audible, Save With Stories Instagram, Oliver Jeffers, Scholastic Learn at Home
– Music: Laurie Berkner Band, Music for Aardvarks, Jam with Jamie
If parents do have an outdoor space where your children can practice “social distancing,” set aside some time to go outside. Getting into a different environment can help children feel a sense of freedom outside of the walls of the house. It’s a great way to cope with the quarantine as a single parent. Parents can try to maximize their time outside by encouraging the children to engage in activities outside that they can continue indoors as well.
Make a Back-Up Plan
A lot of anxiety that goes along with the quarantine as a single parent can stem from not having a plan in place for if that parent or child gets sick, whether from COVID-19 or otherwise.
Taking some time to talk to the children’s other parent, loved one or neighbor about this possibility can help ease these stray thoughts. On the financial end, if a single parent does experience a financial strain, there are charities that provide financial assistance specifically to single parents. These charities also provide advice hotlines and forums for single parents facing similar situations.
Unfortunately, there is no “magic” solution to the quarantine as a single parent and/or mastering work from home with children. However, as much as you can, take a step back and enjoy the memories with your children that would not have been possible before.
Stephanie Tang is a divorce attorney with Kogut & Wilson, who represents individuals in all aspects of family and matrimonial law proceedings. She strives to provide personalized attention to all of her clients and walk them through each step of the litigation or settlement process. Her effective communication and organizational skills help clients feel comfortable and prepared through one of the most stressful times of their lives. As a certified mediator and Fellow of the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois, Stephanie is able to offer clients an alternative to resolve their divorce outside of the courtroom.
Like this article? Check out, “Getting Divorced During Coronavirus?”