3 ways to retain your sanity as a single parent in the middle of a pandemic

These are tough times. The COVID 19 panic has sent the world in shut down mode. Many countries, including India, are on mandatory lockdowns. People are quarantined at home with support structures crumbling. Schools are shut, there is no house help, sporadic online deliveries and no relaxed evenings with friends or family. It’s a nightmare for single parents!

If it were not for the curfew, what I’m about to share in this post would have been very different. I would have talked about how it’s important to build a support ecosystem around you, how you need to get out and get a breather and so on. But these are not normal times and it’s not the usual single parenting chaos we have to deal with.

When you are cooking, cleaning, taking care of the kids, working, venturing out for essentials all on your own – without any breaks – it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed. I have friends and family who, even while not being single, are pulling their hair out in frustration. For single parents, it’s 100 times worse!

Now of course there isn’t a miraculous way to get out of this situation. And of course we have no prior training in this – I mean who expects a pandemic in the 21st century! Didn’t Yuval Noah Harari proclaim that pandemics aren’t humanity’s biggest concerns anymore! What we can do is small things that would retain our sanity till normalcy returns.

  1. Stop trying to do everything – You can’t. Accept it. You don’t have to be perfect. It’s okay if you let non-essential things slide. It’s okay if some things remain undone. Prioritize what needs to be done and weed out everything else with military precision. Be like Scarlett O’Hara, “I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.” And if you haven’t read Gone With The Wind, pick it up to unwind.

 

  1. Make a routine you can handle – All of a sudden you have these extra responsibilities that are humanly impossible to manage and kids who are bored out of their mind and demand your constant attention. Try and set a routine that’s easy for you. You’ve already weeded out non-essential things. Now create a rotation for the essential ones. Maybe clean the house just twice a week. Or meal-prep for a week in one sitting. Kids can get really munchy, and could drive you nuts just asking for snacks. Stocking up on munchies and pre-prepped meals will save you precious moments. If your kids are old enough, see where they can help. Think over what works for you and get going.

 

  1. Surrender – These are circumstances beyond our control. Stressing about them or worrying unnecessarily is not going to help. Yes this situation is going to have long term implications, but you can’t address them right now. Surrender to the bigger forces at play, and take one day at a time. Read to your kids, play games with them, cook meals together. It’s a rare opportunity to bond – grab it with both hands and show anxiety the door.

You’ve already taken the devil by his horns when you started on your single parenting journey, what is a pandemic along the way! Just do the best you can and remember – this too shall pass!

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