Being a Single Parent during a Global Pandemic

Where do I *bleeping* start? It's 100% mental and most of us feel like we are on the verge of a breakdown every 30 seconds or so, right? I'll state the obvious and say what we already know. It is impossible to perform a full time job in your own home, whilst simultaneously caring and teaching your children to the standard and level it feels our schools are expecting us to. Since March of 2020 I've tried and failed and promised to do better tomorrow pretty much every day. The screen time is somewhere in orbit and the meals I am preparing are nothing short of convenient. My house is practically permanently upside down and I am burnt out.

I am enormously conscious that I am in the lucky situation that the company I work for is very understanding. We've built our relationship over 2 years and they are a family business. Compassion is pretty much at the forefront of their philosophy. That being said I sometimes wish they had furloughed me or I'd had the balls to ask. It's on the tip of my tongue most days even now. I've done the maths and we'd be ok but somehow I feel I don't want to abandon them either as there is only me that's trained to fulfil my role.

In terms of trying to get any kind of balance I've had to think hard about what could make this work. So I asked for 2 hours in the morning to set my girls up for the day. My director agreed straight away but because my default setting is people pleaser ( I am working on that I promise) I was agreeing to meetings despite the rule I'd made for myself! I have blocked it in my calendar now on the daily so no one can schedule anything with me between 9am and 11am. I also messaged both teachers explaining I am doing this by myself and I can only achieve so much with them. Their response was so understanding and it was a weight off my shoulders. In saying that the seesaw notifications ramp up during the day and it is still a source of stress.

Anyway, first thing in the morning I prep the worksheets and books for the day. I write down their work in a tiny notebook with an outlined star already drawn in the corner. When they tick everything off - they get the star coloured in for the day and if they get 5 stars in the week, they get some extra pocket money. It's not a perfect system but it seems to be helping.

My parents are in permanent isolation at the minute due to their health issues and whilst the bubble theory is great, with most of my friends still married their duty is first to parents and in-laws so there really isn't anyone to bubble with. My children's Father lives tens of thousands of miles away, which is a whole other struggle at the minute as there is no one to share the care. That has left me dealing with loneliness for grown up company. I have to say texting my friends, one of whom facetimes me really often and chats with my sister every other day has eased the isolation. I am also conscious I get short periods where I don't want to talk to anyone and that is an alarm bell for me. That's when I pick up the phone despite this feeling and speak to someone anyway. I always feel better once I have.

There are rumblings now that the homeschooling could go on until Easter or beyond here in Northern Ireland and whilst it fills me with dread and wondering how I might cope. I keep repeating the mantra 'one day at a time' and try not to sing the country song that immediately pops into my head. All we can do is break this down as far as we can and just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Oh and keeping your head out of the news is highly recommended too. My only sources of information are now memes forwarded to me on whatsapp and tiktok!

Keep safe and well and know you are doing the very best you can.


Caroline