Many single parents are struggling to maintain a positive relationship with their kids during COVID-19 while trying to keep them entertained and mentally stimulated with limited resources. While all parents have faced the challenge of adjusting to a “new normal” due to the coronavirus, many single parents have had to adapt to working from home without a spouse to share responsibilities, not having enough space, feeling overwhelmed, homeschooling their children, and adopting new hygiene habits amidst inadequate support. For instance, Angela, 44, a single parent for four years and raising two teenagers while working full-time, put it like this: “I get up at 6 a.m. to make breakfast and get ready for the day and feel guilty that I can’t be home more. I leave at 7:30 a.m. to go to my job at an assisted living facility. When I come home at 4:30 p.m. my kids are grumpy, usually playing video games, and complaining about wanting dinner soon.” Truth be told, there are many ways you can develop a positive relationship with your children if you invite them to participate in activities that interest them and expose them to some of your hobbies. For instance, inviting your kids to share your love of hiking or biking on weekends can help you form a deeper bond and allow all of you to get much needed exercise and fresh air.
Try out walking paths or nature trails, bird sanctuaries, beaches, bike paths, or zoos. Children and teens usually love the outdoors and if you bundle up, it can be a blast to visit and enjoy new outdoor adventures – even on a chilly or cold day!
Make preparing meals together a family tradition and it will give your kids something special to look forward to. Even a new pizza or pasta recipe (combining different vegetables and sauces) can add variety to your menu and jazz up your dinner table. My personal favorite is Thai chicken pizza made with leftover chicken and peanut sauce, combined and spread on a pizza crust, then topped with mozzarella cheese and baked at 450 degrees for 10 minutes.
Purchase a few inexpensive games and/or cards and designate one night a week to having sandwiches or pizza and let the fun begin. Children of all ages usually enjoy simple games like checkers, Connect Four, or UNO. Some kids even thrive on playing more complicated games like chess or Monopoly; and teens often appreciate word games like Scattergories of Scrabble. If your kids resist unplugging their phones or iPads at first, be persistent and they’ll probably get used to it.
Sharing interests from sports to the arts can only help you develop a stronger bond. Be persistent if he or she resists joining an activity such as painting or putting together a puzzle. Keep in mind, you are the adult and need to be the mature one. Say something like: “I’d love to go for a hike, why not give it a try?”
First, your children probably have a relationship with your ex-spouse and try not to take it personally if they prefer to do some activities with him or her. Divorced families are complex and even if your kids seem reluctant to try something new like game night, being persistent will pay off. Parents across the globe have been confronted with unprecedented and unimaginable concerns about their children’s health, emotional well-being, and how well they’re being educated with the arrival of distance learning. We’ve also experienced the stress associated with reduced resources available in schools and communities, which is especially taxing for single-parent families. Many single parents are seeking new ways to entertain their kids during COVID-19. Even with limited resources, it’s possible to create new traditions such as game night and a bi-weekly hike or brisk walk that can help you connect with your children and keep everyone mentally stimulated and physically fit while we look to the future and brighter days ahead!