Why is no one talking about the mental health challenges for single parents during COVID-19? We have been hearing a lot about the rising number of cases, death rates, black marketing of oxygen cylinders, injections, and medicines, and with each case, humanity is only going down the drain. But what about deteriorating mental health?
Few months back, I had written an elaborated post on how this pandemic is silently affecting all of us psychologically. We are fighting a dual war, a twindemic.
This pandemic has bought a 360 change in our lives and the effect is going to hang in for a long time. Our generation has witnessed one of the biggest medical tragedies ever and it has changed the way we see the world for many of us.
In a family of 4- 8 members, we have struggled really hard to keep up the house running and also maintain our sanity, just imagine how hard it must be for the single parents out there, managing all the household chores alone, working on the finances alone and dealing with this pandemic all alone.
But yes, as a single parent, if you feel like your mental health has taken a hit in 2021, you’re not alone.
Mental Health Challenges For Single Parents During COVID-19
When we were first exposed to the Novel Corona Virus, we never knew that it will turn out to be a huge disaster to mankind, look where we are today. We are literally yearning for oxygen, people are dying because of the pandemic.
The fear of getting infected, online classes, supply shortages, children at home, elderly care, work from home stress, job loss, salary cut, home isolation, quarantine period, rising number of deaths have undoubdetly planted a lot of fear all around us. Unfortunately yet naturally, this has led to many people experiencing fear and anxiety for the first time.
The loss of social contact and isolation has sparked an increase in anxiety and depression. For many, it was a double-edge sword, with less support but more expectations and pressure when it came to working from home and trying to take care of children and home responsibilities while also being available for video conferencing during business hours.
Even when now the vaccine is available, there still remains a lot of uncertainty like what if this hits again, like it is hitting now? What after we get back to normal? Which normal should be adapt anyway? All of this and a lot more is taking a huge toll on mental health.
What are the struggles faced by Single Parents during COVID-19?
According to a United Nations Women report in 2019, there are 13 million households run by single mothers in the country, an estimated 4.5% of all households. Globally, there are more than 100 million mothers who are single-handedly raising their children.
Single parents (widows, divorcees, separated, or single by choice) face huge challenges on a daily basis and here a few mental health challenges for single parents during covid-19:
1.) Financial Stress -One of the biggest of all the mental health challenges for single parents during COVID-19 is financial stress and uncertainity it has bought with it. Single parents are usually the sole bread-winners for their house and if they get laid off or face any sort of financial implications, the whole household arrangement goes for a toss, and not everyone is blessed with a helpful backup.
2.) Limited support system– Another set of mental health challenges for single parents during COVID-19 was the arrangment issue with their kids, a single mom or dad cannot carry their child in the grocery stores or super market. With the rising uncertainty even day care and creche restricted the services, so many single parents could not rely upon them and could not even continue working because of the child care issue. And the ones who are working for home, are not only facing the job related stress but also losing sanity while keeping everything in order, all alone as the only adult.
3.) Juggling between the household chores and the fear -From managing kids, house, work from home and keeping up with the supplies to fulfill the basic needs at home and living with the fear of contaimation, it has surely lead to chronic stress and anxiety in parents. Freguent policy changes, COVID restrictions and limited help has only made their daily living a struggle and has led many to put their mental health, physical health and emotional health at stake. They simply have no choice.
5 Simple Tips to reduce the impact of mental health challenges for single parents during COVID-19
With the given situation, it looks the virus is in no mood of leaving this world soon and we have to hold on a little longer. But also, we cannot ignore the serious mental health impact it is building around us. Then, how can single parents work from home, take care of everything and also take care of their mental health?
I hope these 5 basic reminders can help to reduce the impact of mental health challenges for single parents during COVID-19:
1.) Take one day at a time
Do not pressurise yourself with excessive plans and work. Take one day at a time, make small plans, prepare small meals, work within your capacity, learn to say NO, prioritise things and declutter your day. It is already overwhelming , you don’t need to add to it.
2.) Do not be ashamed of seeking help
I know during times like these, a single parent will hardly get any help, but in case you get offered some help, do not hesitate. You can always return the favour, but if by any chance you get any help please take it.
3.) Involve you children
Usually, we hardly engage our kids, we let them be. But tough times like these teaches a lot. It is important that we prepare our child for uncertainties and help themselves if situation demand so, keeping all the safety measures in mind delegate some work to your child. It will not only help to build resilience among our children but also imbibe a sense of responsibility in them.
4.) It is ok to be imperfect
Drop that baggage of perfection for a while, your laundry can wait, your closet can wait. Focus on food, cleanliness and hygiene for the moment and leave all the decorative and organisation part for later. Focus on self-care so that you can take care of other important things.
5.) It is ok to not feel ok
Times like these are draining. It is ok to feel sad, unhealthy or low. Take a break from work, turn off social media, refrain yourself from news updates and make time for yourself to help you recharge so you can better be there for the rest of your family.
To conclude, I would say that mental health challenges for single parents during COVID-19 is indeed a matter of concern but also the fact is things might be the same for sometime and you might feel like giving up on many occasions. Just stay there.
You need remind yourself, that we all are together in this, this is something we are going to talk for years once it is over and and it’s OK and totally normal even to be struggling now. As long as your children are healthy and reasonably happy, you’re doing a fantastic job, and that’s something that deserves to be recognised and celebrated every single day, so pat yourself and get going.
Priyanka Nair is the author of 26 Days 26 Ways for a Happier you and Ardhaviram. An NLP practitioner and Founder of Sanity Daily, helping you prioritize your mental health. Let’s build a happy community.