They say that “God has a great sense of humour”, but to be honest, these days, I am starting to feel like I don’t get the joke!! For single parents who were already under fire with the challenges of daily life, things have gotten exponentially more difficult, and the light at the end of this tunnel is not yet in sight!
The unexpected and profound impact that Covid-19 has had on the lives and livelihoods of people throughout the world has been quite catastrophic. Sadly, with new strains, second and third waves, the slow rollout of and high demand for vaccinations, this new norm will be with us for the foreseeable future. For the single mother who now has to consider homeschooling, loss of income, parenting 24/7 with minimal to no personal interaction or support, life has become all the more challenging.
So how, against the backdrop of so many challenges, do we navigate the pandemic, stay positive and hopeful for a brighter future?
Focus on the good
Choose gratitude. According to an article in Psychology Today, gratitude “is the expression of appreciation for what one has.” Developing a practice of focusing on the good rather than the bad, what is wrong or missing from our lives, gives us the capacity to feel better about our situation. There will always be those with more than you have, but there are probably many who would wish to be in your shoes. It is estimated that 2% of the world’s population, or over 150 million people are homeless. Globally, 1 in 9 or an estimated 850 million people go to bed hungry. So if you have a home and can eat every day, you are already well ahead of many.
You could also try journaling or coming up with a mantra (a statement/intention said repeatedly) to keep your focus on the positive. Examples are “this too shall pass” or “everything is always working out for me“. Yours can be anything that grounds you and refocuses you when the walls seem to be caving in.
Pivot and shake things up
The pandemic has cost both lives and livelihoods, and many people have had to resort to “pivoting” or reinventing themselves to stay afloat. The inability to lime, work, or go out creates time to explore learning or other new things. The internet has a wealth of free information and resources on how to do virtually everything under the sun; so, even if finances are tight, it is not always necessary to spend money to learn how to do something new. If the kids are bored, get them involved. Start a small home garden and grow your own food. There are a host of foods that you can grow from scraps to get you started. Cook at home more, and learn how to make your family’s favourites. You would be surprised at the skills you can develop and possibly even monetise! You will save money, spend quality time with the kids, and teach them about resilience.
Protect and take care of yourself
While we are all craving to go maskless, drop our guards and live a little, the pandemic is unforgiving, opportunistic and potentially life-threatening. So continue to observe the protocols, as frustrating as they may be. Also, try to improve your health through exercise and making better food choices, as Covid-19 is hitting those with comorbidities the hardest. Diabetes and hypertension are two of the most common diseases in Trinidad and Tobago, both of which are largely attributed to lifestyle. So take a walk, go outside and play with the children, walk the dog or do an online workout. Whatever you choose to do, some fresh air and getting your body moving will make you feel better.
Limit your consumption of news media
Sadly, bad news sells, and social media, the internet and 24/7 news channels can supply an endless feed of news and information about all the many ills of the world. Bad things have always happened, but technology has just created many vehicles that can inundate us with bad news. While we can’t be ignorant to what is happening around us, we don’t need to feed at the trough of bad news on TV, in the press, on Facebook, Twitter and the internet for the entire day, especially before bedtime. Commit to feeding yourself with some positivity by reading a good book, watching an uplifting movie, listening to happy music or a motivational podcast.
In the span of our lives, the pandemic will be just a blip, so try to keep your focus, motivation and hope in the knowledge that life will be good again. Living through and past the pandemic will be a blessing that the millions who have succumbed to it will never have.