Covid, The Toddler & Me

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.

Breaking Patterns

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.

dressing up
My son dressing up as a fireman or a fisherman (depending on how you look at it!?)
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Single Parent Festive Wellness 2020

Christmas 2020

Christmas and New Year is tough for single parents, tougher than other times of the year (and Christmas 2020 is a standout one for us all) so I’ve written this blog post to ease us through this festive season with genuine joy.

This year, I aim to fully enjoy myself by approaching everything with presence, acceptance and the 5 secrets to Single Parent Festive Wellness.

I now know that Christmas shines a big, fat light on my singledom (for me, it even tops Valentine’s day) but this is okay. I’ve accepted it, all is well, and I don’t plan on being single forever! Right now, everything is just as it should be.

The twinkly, glowing media images that reel off happy family after happy family with mums AND dads are what they are. The fun festive bits of this season which accentuate no other adult being around (such as how excited my son gets by decorations) are simply experiences I currently share alone. Regardless, I am grateful for them all.

The split care (if you have it) of children over the holidays can add tough feelings. I know I felt it last year and in the run-up to this one. Are your children with you Christmas Day and Boxing Day, or with the other parent? Maybe you aren’t seeing your child this New Year due to Covid and are feeling the loss of that already. Arrangements vary from situation to situation; more so this year than any other as many of us will additionally be absent of extended family.

A Happy Christmas 2020

I invite you though to not fight those negative spaces; to not be annoyed by the switches or of the times we’re currently in. To stay in the negative or to paste on fake positivity will serve us single parents little gain.

The sun will rise and set on the days of this festive season like any other year. I know I’ll be trying very hard to be present to all the experiences I have. We have choice in how we interpret what life brings. As Shakespeare wrote ‘there is nothing either good or bad, only thinking makes it so’.

So, whether you’re parenting totally solo in Christmas 2020, whether you’re apart from your children, or together with them and others but without a romantic partner – I want to share with you my 5 secrets to Single Parent Festive Wellness. I hope these secrets bring peace, fun and joy at the end of a year like no other.

The 5 Secrets…

1/. Do things that make you feel good…

When we focus on giving our children the best possible festive experience, we can forget to take care of ourselves. So, this year (and every year!) spend some time doing things for yourself that you enjoy. You can’t pour from an empty cup, so have that soak in the bath or take time to read your new book. Do things that make you feel special, grounded and are just for you. You are your own person, as your children are their own too, so enjoy being you!

2/. Let go…

As single parents, we are masters at juggling and managing an array of life. We run the household, provide income and are there for our children day and night. Striving and giving, but all this juggling can make it hard for us to let go of the reins. We can lose our ability to let things be. Surrendering control is empowering, peace-giving and on a higher plain for not only ourselves but for our children. So, surrender to that which you feel resistance over and let peace envelop your soul.

3/. Laugh…

Do this as much and as often as you can. Laughter is a powerhouse of goodness for your physical and mental health. Avoid too many news updates and instead, laugh at movies, play games and mess about. Our children are better at this than we are (as well as lots of other things, lol) so look to them for guidance! Laugh every day and laugh hard. 

4/. Live mindfully…

Enjoy all the moments that Christmas 2020 and New Year give for what they are. Focus on whatever is happening with all your senses. Really experience it, don’t let thoughts about the past or the future fog your mind. Look at a mince pie as if you’ve never seen one before! As your children open their presents, watch their faces and feel the energy they exude as they pull paper and ribbon apart. You’ll get so much from this.

5/. Move

You might think this is hard to fit in (whilst getting everything else sorted) but movement of our bodies reaps enormous rewards. Doing at least 30 minutes of cardio exercise each day is great for us in mind, body and spirit. If you can do it outside, then even better! I get out and about with my toddler every day and I have an exercise bike in my bathroom for when he’s in bed. Yoga, pilates and weigh bearing exercise is also key for muscles, flexibility and overall health. 

Enjoy this festive season. Catch up with others virtually, love the moments you have and look to the future for what Christmas-es will be like.

I wish you and your families health, happiness and joy for 2021. Thank you for supporting this blog and my work with single parents.

If you or someone you know would benefit from coaching in 2021, please let me know. It has all the potential to be their best year yet!

(Photos by Chad Madden, Kira auf der heide & S&B Vonlanthen, Unsplash)

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