COVID’s Impact on the Single Parent’s Work-Life Balance

As a single parent, life is not easy. It takes time to create a balance in your life, and frankly, the cards are already stacked against you even without the COVID factor. Let’s rewind a few months ago. Everything seemed manageable. Maybe you had a routine and a certain rhythm in your life… then boom! COVID 19 happened! Without a doubt, the pandemic has dramatically impacted your work-life balance because you now have to work from home, care for your kids, homeschool them, and get used to living in your house – something most people are finding difficult. But, a few months in, there are a few challenges that stand out.

Working from home with no daycare

Remember the sweet old days when you could drop your little one at a daycare center and have peace of mind that someone is watching them? Along with knowing someone is watching your munchkin, you knew your kids are trained and provided with a stimulating environment to grow and develop.

Because of the lockdown, you have to provide this environment on top of working and meeting your work deadline. To keep things sane, try and keep the schedules as normal as you possibly can. While you won’t always succeed, having your kids sleep, play, eat while following a schedule will bring stability and help you set time apart for chores and work.

Expect them to resist from time to time, but try and keep everything as together as possible. Since you’ll be alone, ensure you share your home schedule with your colleagues and supervisors at work to try and work around it. This will help you prevent unexpected interruptions from your kids, pets or other members of your household.Without a doubt, the pandemic has dramatically impacted your work-life balance because you now have to work from home, care for your kids, homeschool them, and get used to living in your house

Without a doubt, the pandemic has dramatically impacted your work-life balance because you now have to work from home, care for your kids and homeschool them.

Too much screen time

Let’s face it, giving your child access to the internet, TV or to other digital devices allows you to have your meeting or do house chores in peace but, screen time is proven to promote an unhealthy lifestyle. Spending too much time on screen whether on the internet, on gaming platforms or on TV, promotes less physical activity and more sedentary habits. Although your kids could learn a lot by surfing the internet, kids are more likely to engage and interact with games and social media versus reading the vast valuable content at their fingertips.

As a single parent, you have very little time and because of this, you may be more inclined to default to these devices as a form of babysitting. You might be looking for ways to keep your kids busy so you can have more time to do the things you want to do or need to do for yourself. Although COVID has given you even more reason to lean on TVs, computers and gaming consoles as your best friend, try to incorporate time with your kids through interactive games and conversation on topics you find fascinating. Interaction helps your child develop language and reasoning skills, courage, autonomous thinking, and even problem-solving. If your child is younger, encourage them to scribble and color so they can develop fine motor skills. There’s more activities and options available than watching TV, surfing the internet and gaming.

Unemployment due to COVID

The service industry is one of the hardest hit by the COVID 19 lockdown. The pandemic has affected many brick and mortar businesses in various industries including travel, retail, hospitality and professional services. The most obvious challenge is financial constraints as single parents with single income households and typically more service related  The average single parent family in Canada earns $45,000 per year and when you factor in the cost of living, a single parent family has very little room for any financial impact.

Living standards and expectations need to be adjusted with very little to no income as a result of the pandemic. This situation is likely to create stress and conflict as you try to prioritize where you spend your money.

Sadly, your kids have to make adjustments, which means emotions will be flaring as they try to fight with you for what they want or used to get but you can no longer afford. The best option here is to explain the situation to them if they are old enough to understand. Because of the tight financial situation, you may not be able to provide them with the things they want and some temporary sacrifices must be made to get by. Things you can do to stay on budget include foregoing take-out food and start making things at home instead of buying outside. Because so many things are closed, you are less likely to spend money to go to activities like the movies, restaurants and shopping anyway. However, try to replace those fun times with low budget alternatives at home to stay safe, healthy and mindful of your budget.

Coping when you are an essential worker

Now if you’re a valuable essential worker on the front lines of the pandemic, there’s another set of challenges that you will be faced with as a single parent. Not only will you have the challenges of not having the help around you, like a spouse to take care of the kids while you isolate each day for safety, but you might also find yourself in a vulnerable position being exposed to COVID.

The biggest challenge in your case is who will watch the kids when you have to be at work. Sending them over to a trusted relative or friend has worked for most frontline workers, but this also means you can’t visit them, or you will be endangering their lives. The best you can do is a video call, but we all know nothing beats a warm hug from your kiddo.

Despite all the challenges faced during these unprecedented times, the impact on single-parent families like yours will probably be felt further in the future. But you’re not alone. The whole world is experiencing the hard ship and although yours may feel like two times the magnitude of other dual income households, you will survive. We know that it is difficult but there are government programs to help you manage your financial hardship and don’t forget to reach out to the community safely and responsibly to support the needs of your family.

 

 

 

Chanelle Dupre

Chanelle Dupre is a writer of parenting articles and was a single parent for 20 years to two sons now in their late 20's. She had a column in 3 newspapers and this blog is a curation of old and new stories around the challenges of single parenting and ideas on how to make life easier.

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