Single Parenting Amidst the Coronavirus PandemicCredits: 99.co
While virtually no one has been left unchanged by the pandemic, single parents have been one of the hardest hit demographics.
Even before the pandemic, it is no easy feat being a single parent. Not only do they provide the sole incomes for their families, but they also face societal pressure to flawlessly juggle work and family responsibilities. Adding the pandemic into the mix, work-family conflict is aggravated, as parents have to stay vigilant to information coming from the government and make decisions in the best interests of their children’s safety.
Yet, even as the economy is reopening and Singapore is looking to enter Phase 3 of the COVID-19 Circuit breaker, and even as more people return to work and adjust to life with the virus, it is natural to still harbor feelings of anxiety and stress because of the pandemic. With so much on their plate, it is easy for single parents to always put their own needs and well-being on the back burner. But this is not healthy, and can consequently lead to chronic stress and anxiety.
Hence, in this article, we have collated five tips for protecting one’s mental health that may be useful in supporting single parents during these uncertain times.Credits: Singapore Sole Parent
1. Start with Acceptance
Set the parenting bar lower. Acknowledge that right now, you are doing your best in a challenging situation, and you cannot do it all - or at least not all perfectly. Check in with yourself. Accept the feelings and emotions that run through you. Are you disappointed? Angry? Frustrated? Then look at the situation you are feeling stuck in. What factors of the situation are in and out of your control? While there are certain things we cannot change, we certainly can improve on the ones that we can control. A more refined focus on these areas can prevent burnout and reduce feelings of being overwhelmed. This mindfulness concept is termed “radical acceptance”, and is recommended by Rachel Busman, PsyD, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute.
2. Remove and Delegate Whatever You Can
Once you come to terms with the above point, it may be time to drop a few responsibilities. When you need help, ask for it. It is important to model for your child that reaching out is not a sign of weakness, but rather, a sign of strength. Run through your list of responsibilities, and check if there is anything that you can delegate to someone else (perhaps a friend, a neighbor, a colleague, or even your child) or remove altogether. For example, if you have school-aged children, get their help with household chores or making their own lunches. Start small. This can build some space into your life, and more faith in the people around you.
Credits: Rice Media
3. Keep an Open Dialogue
Some parents may start spending less time at home, as they transition from fully work-from-home to a hybrid work model. Other parents may start spending more time at home, should they be laid off or furloughed due to business closings. Kids can pick up on these changes, and may be anxious, that may result in regression and acting out. To help them, talk to your kids about how your routines may change, and reaffirm that these changes will not affect your commitment to and love for one another as a family. Having open and age-appropriate dialogue, where both parties know that the other is doing the best they can, will help to set expectations for your children and boundaries around your work, and improve the relationship overall.
4. Be Selective of Your Social Media
While social media can help you to stay connected with family and friends, too much of it can lead to a slippery slope of comparing yourself to others. Catch and stop yourself if you start feeling envious or jealous at what other parents can provide for their children. Remind yourself that every household has their own share of struggles, and that it isn’t fair to compare your real-life challenges to someone else’s highlight reel. Take a social media detox, if necessary. Instead, use that time to spend quality time with your loved ones and with yourself.
Credits: Yahoo Lifestyle
5. Figure Out What Does, and What Doesn’t, Work for You
There is no ‘how-to-survive-the-pandemic’ manual, just like how there is no step-by-step guide on being a single parent. Make it a point to experiment with new strategies – embrace whatever works for you and your family and let go of the ones that don’t. Every household is unique; a strategy that works for one may not work for another.
It is also important to keep in mind that there will still be days where you feel like it is impossible to keep going. That is okay, and totally normal. Go easy on yourself. Be kind to yourself and treat yourself the way you would comfort your children when they are upset. As long as you are trying your best in making things work, you are doing a fantastic job, and that’s something that deserves to be recognized and celebrated. Now, more than ever, parenting is about doing the best you can, with what you have.
2houses. (2020, August 21). Maintaining mental health as a single parent during COVID-19. 2houses. https://www.2houses.com/en/blog/maintaining-mental-health-as-a-single-parent-during-covid-19
Garey, J. (2020). Single parenting during the coronavirus crisis: Strategies for managing when you’re doing it alone. Child Mind Institute. https://childmind.org/article/single-parenting-during-the-coronavirus-crisis/
Written by Ng Jia Ying. Jia Ying is a 3rd year undergraduate from SMU, pursuing Psychology and Marketing. A believer of lifelong learning, she aims to constantly educate herself and others around her on the importance of mental health and to reduce society’s stigmatization of mental illnesses.