It has been four years since I am a single working mother by choice to two doting children, aged five and seven. I worked as an associate English professor at a community college in Australia. Life wasn’t certainly a bed of roses for me. But things got worse beyond my expectation as the pandemic struck.

Almost overnight, my university shut down and I was told that everything will be online from now on. Schools and child care facilities shut down and switched to remote learning. The entire nation went under lockdown and what not! Working from home and looking after kids ALONE isn’t really an incredible combination. From struggling to get assignments done within deadlines to settling sudden fights between the children over the remote and getting them to behave at grocery stores, the quarantine period was a disaster. I was a disaster.

Sharing this with my best friend, who is also a single mom, made me realize that it isn’t just me. after The pandemic has been especially hard on single mothers all over the world.  There are almost 13.6 million single parents in the US and 80% of them are mothers. Some of them have learned to deal with the eerie new normal, while others are still struggling to find their mental peace. So, I have compiled three incredible tips that can help single mothers deal with the current situation without going insane. The tips are associated with five different inspirational real-life stories. These show how single mothers are standing up to the challenges of the pandemic while enduring peacefully.

  • Start accepting the changes first

Here’s the attitude single moms need to stay strong amid this chaos:

Single mothers usually have a limited social circle. I, for example, arranged playdates with my children’s friends and their single mothers. At times I hung out with my university colleagues if I managed to get a class off. My limited social life came to an end during the pandemic. Just like me, many of you must have felt anger and frustration fuelled by feelings of isolation and loneliness. Things would be easier and less painful if you could accept the changes. Accepting something doesn’t mean that you have to like it. It means you accept whatever is happening without any judgment or fighting to make things stop.

Here’s how you can start accepting a challenging situation:

  • Acknowledge what is and isn’t in your control

The pandemic isn’t in our control, is it? Then what’s the point of worrying about it or ruining sleep because of it? Remember, you are in survival mode right now. Though you may feel lonely, remember you aren’t alone. Articles that tell you that this is the time for reorganizing your closet make no sense. This is the time to be kind to yourself, to survive and just get by.

  • Lower the parenting bar

You are an individual besides being a single mother. There are going to be days & times when you can get everybody bathed or fed. You may need some time apart from your kids to find your mental peace and that’s okay.

  • Do not focus a lot on academics

It can be overwhelming to work from home and be your child’s teacher five days a week. So, it’s okay if you manage to essay help with your child’s academic experts work three days a week only. Consult with the teachers and see if they extend the deadlines for your children’s assignments.

  • Set flexible screen time limits

Staying home 24*7 isn’t easy for your kids either. So, you can allow some extra time for gaming on iPad watching. That will give you some time to recharge and take a break.

Acceptance is the key to enduring peacefully through the pandemic. These changes aren’t forever. You have to put up with it as long as things don’t get back to normal.

  • Find a balance between work and childcare

Julia Sanders, one of my colleagues at my university, called me up and this is what she said:

I don’t think I can work and take care of my kids at the same time anymore.  Yesterday, my supervisor sent me an invitation to join a virtual conference. The moment I joined, Chris (her younger child) fell from the crib. He wasn’t hurt, but he got scared and started crying frantically. I had to disconnect the meeting and focus on him.

It isn’t easy to work and homeschool or take care of a child at the same time and that too all alone. And leaving jobs might not be a feasible option for most of the single mothers out there. Instead of pushing too hard, here are the strategies you can try out to make a plan for juggling childcare and work:

  • Talk to your employer

Your employer might seem intimidating, but he isn’t unreasonable. You won’t know unless you talk to her or him. Have a conversation about how to arrange the timing or manage the deadlines at work. Let your employer know that the job is as important to you as aligning with your child’s needs is.

  • Teach your kids to be independent

You can use visual aids to let your kid know when you are available and when you are busy with office work. For instance, you can set a specific time period after consulting with your employers. Ask your kid to behave and be on their own for that specific time period. Here’s one relatable pandemic story I came across on the Internet:

  • Don’t be too hard on yourself

It is okay if you don’t go above and beyond like you used to before the pandemic. Go easy on yourself. Understand that your colleagues and friends might be facing similar challenges. So, let your employers know about what you are able to put in at work in this current situation.

Your job is important and so is taking care of your kids. So, instead of overdoing things, it’s okay if you make plans for both aspects of your life. Let your kids know when you are working and when they aren’t allowed to disturb you. Teach them about boundaries and help them be independent when you are working from home.

  1. Do things that make you happy

As single moms, you may have to juggle two children, work along with a lot of responsibilities of a household. Who loves to wash dishes every night or do laundry every day? Nobody but single mothers barely have a choice, especially in this pandemic. Unlike the stereotypical parenting, single mothers are in control of the bulk of decisions in your life and your children’s lives. The happier you are, the better your decisions and impact will be on your kids’ life. So, here are some techniques to nurture yourself and your relationship with your kids.

  • Get rest

Curl up with an interesting book or escape into a warm bath once your kids go to sleep. Unfortunately, you can’t visit salons as easily as you could before the pandemic. So, do whatever you like and make the most of this precious downtime.

  • Try something new with your kids

Honestly, it is hard for single working moms to dedicate a lot of time to their kids. Thus, this pandemic has given you ample time for that. Play a new game or engage in an activity to nurture your bonding with your kids.

  • Encourage kids to help you with household chores

Let your kids help around the house amid this pandemic. This is a great way to teach them responsibility. This also makes your kids realize that they are important and responsible members of the family.

Being a single parent is an exhausting and joyous experience a person could have. You have the same challenges as a two-parent family and yet you are doing it all alone! So, it’s okay to take a break from a hectic schedule and focus on yourself.

Wrapping Up,

Single parenting isn’t easy. And the pandemic has worsened the situation. The kids are screaming, your deadlines are looming over your head and you are past your limit. In such situations, your mind may say, “I can’t do this” or “My life is too hard.” Try to flip the emotional switch and see things in perspective. The pandemic isn’t in your control. But, your life is. So, make the most of this tough situation, laugh with your kids and smell the coffee, please.