Arghhhh… self-isolating in a small flat, on your own with Covid AND a three year old toddler, is hard.
If you’ve had to do something similar and come out unscathed, give yourself a big pat on the back.
My recent stint was emotionally (as well as physically) challenging.
All I wanted to do was be still and horizontal but, as you parents know, being a felled grown-up in the vicinity of a small person means you instantly turn into the ring of a WWF bout.
My head hurt.
My nose streamed.
Every limb ached and I felt fogged from head to toe but my little one still insisted on grappling me like he was Hulk Hogan.
Now – obviously – I’m very grateful I passed by this period of illness (and the last time I had Covid) without serious consequence but I did feel rough. Worse, in fact, than previously.
I could barely drag myself off the sofa. All I wanted to do was be motionless but that’s not an option with a pint-sized Mr Hogan commanding the room!
So, my son and I played games for a bit. We baked once, dressed up, read a lot and watched Disney movies. We made it through okay, but I also learnt a few things about myself after they uncomfortably bubbled up…
Firstly, going outside every day makes me feel I’ve accomplished something and – what I realised from this current isolation – is that I need to feel ‘accomplishment’ to feel good about myself.
This means if I can’t go outside or do anything other than muster a 2 minute game of snakes and ladders, I immediately feel my time has been useless (and therefore, what use am I!?!).
Reflecting on this new, jigsaw-like piece of self awareness, I suppose, I’ve always known ‘accomplishment’ was a thing. Now, though, it was highlighted to me in bright, bold and with surround sound so I couldn’t conveniently ignore it.
I brought awareness to my gremlins and challenged them – ‘What use are you to me? What negative impact are you having? What evidence is there that my worth hinges on accomplishment?’
Taking a reality check shone light on the falsehoods and inconsistencies I was thinking and feeling. I knew what was real and helpful, and what was just a story.
I know my worth is not about going outside, ticking things off a list, ‘achieving’ or anything else goal-orientated. Accomplishments can be galvanising and good, but they do not define how ‘good’ I am.
My worth is not validated by the external. I am enough just as I am – whether indoors or out – lying still or doing things.
Mindful practices were also very beneficial for me during these uncomfortable moments about accomplishment. I focused on what was happening in the present – on what my son was doing, on the colours and shapes I could see and I listened to the noises of my flat and noises outside. We watched the clouds from our skylights and touched the fabrics around us. These all helped to ground me in the now and in what is beautiful.
The second thing I realised – and this is hard for me to admit because of the shame it brings – but I snapped at my son a couple of times whilst ill. There was also the odd eye roll when he was asked me to play bingo for the 115th time.
Thanks to a lot of self-reflection and digging about in why I do the things I do, I caught myself after these moments and felt a swell of guilt. Being like this is not how I want to be – there’s a mismatch between my values and actions.
After I snapped and rolled my eyes, I apologised to my son and said I felt poorly and not like normal. I asked him if I could try again and do better.
I used a clear, calm voice and gentle words to express myself so he understood and felt no schism in our love.
He told me I’d done a good ‘try-again’ and we had a hug.
Sheesh, single parenting is like the best therapy money can’t buy!
Single Parents in Isolation
As our Covid days and isolation came to an end, I considered (as I have many times) how other single parents managed their lockdowns over the past two years.
Gingerbread states “Single parent families have been disproportionately affected by the impacts of the pandemic. Urgent action is needed to protect single parents and their children during the crisis and beyond.”
How did you cope with multiple kids at home and a job to do online?
What helped you manage if you got ill or tackled long Covid?
Did you feel lonely when stuck indoors?
My trail of thoughts went on….
Our recent time in isolation was both hard and good, which also sums up how the past two years have been for me. Lots of positives alongside more than a few negatives.
If you’d like to talk about anything that’s come up for you as a single parent during Covid, then please get in touch today.