Parenting in a pandemic hasn't been easy for anyone – especially not for single parents who've had their own set of challenges to face.
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Parenting in a pandemic has been a rollercoaster for many of us – the pleasure of spending more time with the kids was a real delight.
The feeling of failing at homeschooling? Not so much.
Now take every challenge of 2020 and multiply it several times over and you'll be close to what it's been like for single parents this year.
It can be tough anyway and during the coronavirus pandemic being a single parent has, at times, seemed almost impossible to cope with. It has also thrown up some previously unknown things about being a single parent that we'd never really thought about before.
If you're a single mum or dad reading this, we'd love to know how many you relate to.
Before the coronavirus lockdown was announced back in March, we never would have dreamed we were capable of doing 100% of the childcare and 100% of everything else AT THE SAME TIME.
OK, you might not win any awards for your teaching style, but you survived homeschooling without the assistance of a partner, and that's no small achievement.
Sometimes the best thing to do – for your own mental health – is accept the fact you're not going to be firing on all cylinders for a while.
Beating yourself up for some perceived failing as a parent is just not helpful, and if you need to lower your standards for a bit, when the pressure is on and you're juggling a million and one different things, then that is absolutely fine.
Ice cream for breakfast because that's what your child asked for and you have an important work call? No problem!
As much as you love your children, 12 hours a day of talking about Paw Patrol is not all that stimulating for most grown-ups, so Zooms and FaceTimes with mates have been lifesavers for single parents.
You might not have been able to catch up in person over a vat of Prosecco while your kids were with the ex, but talking to other adults was a key coping mechanism while still in the midst of full-on lockdown – and it is still important now, even though some restrictions have eased.
Going anywhere with the kids alone can sometimes feel like an epic challenge, and one that only single parents really understand.
You can't nip to the loo and leave your 4 year old unattended on a day out at the zoo, for example, so even the simplest of things can seem tricky.
Staying in the comfort of your own home – pandemic stress notwithstanding – is a breeze in comparison!
Remember at the start of lockdown we were all supposed to to the weekly shop alone? Not possible for single parents, obviously.
Instead we had stressful trips to the supermarket which involved bellowing 'STAY WITH ME. DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING' every 30 seconds as the toddler started rampaging through the aisles.
Cue the tutting and grumbling from other shoppers.
This goes for life generally, not just the coronavirus pandemic, but there are unique challenges when it comes to parenting solo that even the most well-meaning coupled-up friends will never understand.
Activities that might seem straightforward when you're one half of a parenting duo can be ridiculously complex (or impossible) when you're on your own.
For example, remember when we all allowed out for exercise once a day and told how important it was to keep physically fit? Not that easy to go for a jog if you have young kids and there isn't another parent around to hold the fort...
We all know that social media, and the internet generally, is awash with angry people wanting to start arguments.
But it also full of people in the same situation as you, people who will understand what you're going through and might have some words of wisdom to share.
Talking to other single parents online about how they're juggling everything can be a real source of reassurance that you're not alone.
Single parents around the country rejoiced when the government announced 'support bubbles' back in June, meaning they could bubble up with another household – and get some much-needed childcare.
But the decision to bubble up was not an easy one for those whose main childcare choice always used to be grandparents. Would bubbling up mean putting grandparents at increased risk?
We've all had to soldier on as normal when feeling under the weather, but not being able to call on friends or family for help when you're not feeling your best is difficult.
And even more so if you had coronavirus and were panicking about your child catching it.
The situation wasn't helped with the conflicting advice on what to do as a single parent if you contracted coronavirus and whether it was OK to seek support.
Whether you're a single parent or part of a couple, we think most people will agree that the pandemic has tested our parenting abilities in ways we never imagined back in the halcyon days before we'd heard of social distancing.
We're all coping with different challenges and juggling different roles, and most of it is stuff we'd never anticipated.
How To Talk So Little Kids Will Listen: A Survival Guide to Life with Children Ages 2-7 by Joanna Faber is a must-read for all parents. See more details here at Amazon.
Are you a single parent? If you're struggling or need someone to talk to, help is always at hand in our Drop In Clinic below ...
Or, chat to other single parents about your pandemic experience in our chat forum below ...
CHAT: what has lockdown taught you about being a single parent?