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Strategies for Navigating COVID-19 as a Single Parent

Sep 18, 2020 | Feel Good Friday

The COVID-19 crisis is tough on all families. But for single parents, having to suddenly manage kids whose schools and playgrounds are closed and whose caregivers can no longer come to work can be especially overwhelming. To help support single parents during this difficult time, we’ve put together some strategies for managing stress when you are at this alone. In particular, this Feel Good Friday focuses on tips for reaching out to find help (which is crucial to your mental health), balancing work and time with the kids (which can feel impossible) and resources available for single parents.

Find your village

If ever there were a time to ask for help, now is that time. And it’s important to model for your child that when you need help, you ask for it. When you can’t rely on your usual support network, you might:

  • Reach out to your child’s teacher or school psychologist or counselor, or to your own therapist.
  • Schedule regular FaceTime dates with grandparents or your child’s favorite babysitter or the other parent if they’re in the picture. Just twenty minutes of virtual childcare may give you the time you need to take a shower or start a grocery delivery list.
  • Have virtual meals with friends who live in other parts of the country and who are at home with their kids.

Make a plan for juggling work and child care

Working from home is hard and homeschooling is hard, so putting them together can seem impossible. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the balancing act, try these strategies:

  • Use visual aids and timers to let your child know when you’re available and when you need to work. For young kids, try this out by setting up an activity they can do relatively independently. Then use a time or visual “stop lights” (clip a green piece of paper to the door when you’re available, and a red one when you’re not) to teach kids about boundaries.
  • Speak to your employer if you are working from home. Depending on your situation, you can talk to your employer about taking some family medical leave. Or have a conversation about how to arrange flex time or how to consolidate work tasks during times that are going to align with what your child needs.

Resources for single parents

  • Stand For Children, a non-profit education advocacy organization offering help to families during COVID-19.
  • Benefits.gov, shares federal unemployment benefits and child care options.

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