Parenthood is hard, especially during these unique times, and the reality is our single mama and papa friends are doing it all. The diaper changes, the mealtimes, the housekeeping, and the boo-boo kissing. The bath time/bedtime, the middle of night wake-ups, and more. Quite literally, all of it.
In the age of coronavirus, social distancing, quarantine, and forced homeschooling, our collective parental to-do lists are growing. Insert grocery shopping with sterile wipes and enforcing social distancing when our kids are climbing the walls for a real-time playdate. For single parents, these added to-do's fall squarely on their shoulders alone.
I'm a married mom whose husband was recently let go from his job. I am working part-time from home with two young children under the age of four, and frankly, most days I'm struggling. All of the added stress on families had me wondering, how are the single parents of the world doing it? And more than that, how can we, their friends and family, be supportive?
And so I asked (online), and this is what you, the single mamas and papas of Generation Mindful from around the world, wanted us to know:
We Are Figuring Out Our Finances
Some of us are being asked to work from home during social distancing. We are juggling two full-time jobs simultaneously - our career and our kids - under one roof. Some of us have jobs that closed down or we have been laid off or terminated completely due to COVID. But, no matter our situation, we are doing what we’ve always done - we are figuring it out.
Babywearing while working, organizing online book readings and virtual playdates, extra outside or TV time to squeeze in a few hours of uninterrupted (ok, not completely) work. We are filing for unemployment and shifting our finances. Some of us are even starting that online Etsy business we've always dreamed of doing. We are doing what we need to do for our family.
We Are Figuring Out Co-parenting and Social Distancing
Some of us are divorced, we share custody and we are wondering if our ex will be on the same page as us when it comes to social distancing.
One GENM mama member shared, “My ex and I have trouble agreeing on most things, and so I was worried about seeing eye to eye regarding social distancing. Does social distancing mean the same thing in his home as it does mine? But, to my relief, we have mostly been on the same page. Parks, not playgrounds. Virtual playdates, not physical ones. We may not agree on what foods to feed our kids or how much TV time they should get, but we are surprisingly both on the same team here. It's about their health, their safety, and that has been a relief.”
We Are Creating New Rituals
Similar to the rest of the world, we are looking for our "new normal." Some of us feel this forced slowing down of sorts has given us more time to connect and play.
One GENM parent shared, “We have even had some surprisingly positive changes since the quarantine. We have had a real breakfast every morning, we are spending our time doing more educational and play activities, and we sit down for dinner together every night - just me and my kiddos. We are actually getting time to be a family and, through this, I'm realizing that we can take these new rituals with us long after this is over.”
Supporting Our Single Parent Friends
There are many articles on the internet of late offering gestures to help our single mama/papa friends during the coronavirus pandemic. Things like grocery shopping, cutting the grass, etc. And don't get me wrong, these physical gestures and acts of service are undeniably helpful, even vital, and at the same time, from your replies, I wonder if we don't also have a unique opportunity here to send you extra doses of our emotional support as well.
So, how can we as family, friends, and a community support our single mama and papa sisters and brothers better emotionally? This is what our community told me:
- Keep it real. Talk to us about our storms just as much as you talk to us about our wins. Ask me how I'm feeling. Listen when I need to fall apart. And then call me the next day too. Rinse and repeat.
- Make check-ins a ritual. Once a week isn't always enough. Send me a text or reach out with a good 'ole fashion phone call. But reach out on a regular basis if you can, and let me know you are thinking of me. The key is consistency.
- Celebrate. As hard as life might feel right now, there are still things to celebrate. I want you to help me find the gifts. Gratitude, not unlike the virus that has us here, is contagious. So share your little moments with me, and if I am in the mood, help me find my little moments as well.
No matter how we are showing up for our single sisters and brothers - be it physically and/or emotionally - from everything our community of single parents shared, one thing is for certain, our love and our support make a difference.
So share a kind word. Take a moment today to simply check in and to be present. Let your single-parent friends know that you see them over there doing all the things, juggling life and making it work.
To all the many single parents of the world, no matter what your story, your successes, challenges, or struggles, we want you to know that you are amazing. We see you, we celebrate you, and we have your back!