11 Ways Single Parents Are Staying Sane While Social Distancing

From their favorite apps for virtual hangouts to figuring out how to fit in a workout, single moms share their best tips on staying happy and healthy amidst the chaos of the coronavirus pandemic.

back view of mother carrying sleeping daughters
Photo: Blend Images - Inti St Clair/Getty Images

COVID-19 has changed the game for every parent out there. But for moms and dads raising kids on their own, surviving everyone being stuck at home has been an even bigger challenge. We see you, single parents. Knowing just how much support you could use right about now, we asked parents like you for their best tips on how they've managed to stay healthy mentally and physically during the pandemic. Here are a few of their favorite ideas you should plan to steal as we look forward to a social-distanced summer.

Allow your kids to help around the house.

"One of my lifesavers during this time has been allowing my children to help me out around the house with more daily tasks. Things need to get done, and I've realized there's a teachable moment in practically all household chores. My little ones have learned to help with so many things like setting the table and helping with laundry (you'd be surprised at how focused kids can be pouring detergent!). Plus, it's easier to get them to help me do the laundry versus getting them to do an activity while I do it myself. I find that I avoid many of the meltdowns that come with needing attention while I work to get things accomplished. Do I have to help them? Of course. Do things get done slower? Almost always. Does it work perfectly all the time? Of course not. BUT, involving them serves as a quadruple win because we're doing things as a family, they're learning life skills at an early age, they feel a sense of empowerment, and I get things checked off my list with minimal interruptions. It's definitely been great for my mental and emotional sanity—and theirs, too!" —Breegan Jane, designer and lifestyle expert in Los Angeles

Schedule an early morning workout.

"I wake up a few hours before my daughter to get in a cup of coffee and a workout before we start our day. Having some time by myself in the mornings gives me a mental refresh. And, by starting my day with a workout, I jumpstart my metabolism so I can keep up with my 2-year-old all day!" —Tessa Mason, licensed aesthetician in Nashville, Tennessee

Have a dance party.

"Dance parties with my daughter and my friends have definitely helped me find joy and stay sane. I love dancing with my daughter and my best friend's older brother has virtual Zoom dance parties every weekend that I look forward to. I can be active, be silly, and have fun at the same time." —Ta'lor L. Pinkston, self-love activist and therapist in Pittsburgh

Schedule virtual hangouts.

"Virtual hangouts have been my saving grace! I love the app Marco Polo and I use it every day to stay connected with my friends. It helps make me feel less alone and gives me some sanity by having some adult conversations. Sometimes after I put the kids down for the night I'll get on the phone with a friend and we will watch a movie virtually or just chat. I'm so grateful for technology during this time so I can still stay connected with my friends." —Jennifer Hanks, twin mommy blogger at Coco's Caravan in Minneapolis

Have guilt-free 'me' time.

"As parents we spend all day taking care of our kids that we sometimes forget to take care of ourselves. I try and leave a couple hours at night for myself where I do something I enjoy. I love to play video games or watch Netflix. It's a couple hours a day where I can forget my responsibilities and just relax. It's so important that we don't feel guilty about it afterward; we worked hard that day and deserve a little break. I find that it really helps me mentally and physically recharge for the next day!" —Jennifer Hanks

Take at least two walks a day.

"My daughter and I take walks around our neighborhood once before nap and again after dinner. We have our regular stops to see the turtles in the pond and then on to look for the deer. It's a fun relaxing way to get out of the house, get some fresh air, and have a little learning session as we talk about all the colors, flowers, animals, and sounds." —Tessa Mason

Ta'lor L. Pinkston

I ask for help when I can, even if it's virtual support. Sometimes I will call my parents, sister, cousins, and friends and have them talk to my daughter over the phone for a bit just so I can get some house work done.

— Ta'lor L. Pinkston

Create a schedule—even though you'll stray from it.

"I think as parents we are forced to maintain some sort of structure regardless if we want to, but in order to feel like in not losing my mind and on a never-ending weekend, I have had to create a schedule for our house so my son can stay on task and I can get work done as well. I think we all thrive from knowing what's next. We stray from it and change it often, but it definitely helps everyone feel productive." —Amber Bayer, health coach in Portland, Oregon

Commit to "clocking out" at the end of the day.

"I have a 'clock out' time. This is the time I stop operating as the cook, the house cleaner, the clothes washer, the toy picker-upper and sit. It usually isn't a time I set on the clock, but I know it's time to 'clock out' when the girls are in bed. After bath and dinner, I begin 'closing out' the day by cleaning the kitchen and organizing the common areas while they complete their chores, play, or watch their last show for the night. I choose which areas are most important for me that day, focus on those, and move on to other areas once those are complete. But once the clock strikes bedtime, everything stops. I light a candle and do whatever it is that makes me happy." —Alaina Mayes

Keep the same bedtime and morning routine.

"I really believe keeping the schedule we had before this pandemic has really helped us to stay on track and not get overwhelmed. I feel that we are more productive when we have created good habits. I know when my daughter started kindergarten last August, I worked really hard to create a plan for a bedtime and morning routine. It was the best thing I did. My daughter really was able to adapt to the long days at school. I knew once we went to distance learning I needed to keep her on the same schedule meaning bedtime was the same and morning routine was the same. I found this helped her adjust to this new style of learning and for myself helped me be more productive." —Jenna Cutter, blogger at Chloe Madison LA in Los Angeles

Take long showers and baths.

"Frequent, extended showers and baths have been HUGE lifesavers for me. This might sound ordinary, but single moms know how much of a luxury they can be when you have two youngsters in a house during a quarantine. Even before COVID-19, I always felt a strong connection to the ocean and water. They re-center, rejuvenate, and relax me. Because I don't have a pool and beach time has been extremely limited, extended showers and baths recharge me and give me the fuel I need to re-enter the world with positivity and a healthy outlook. They're just the boost I need to take on whatever happens next. I set aside very intentional self-care time in my bathroom to do simple things like facials, moisturizing with nourishing oils, and taking time for myself. The practice of actually washing our bodies is functional, but I find there's a healing function to it, as well. Right now I cannot get a mani-pedi or pamper time that I need, but I can create a spa-like atmosphere in my bathroom and spend a few moments longer indulging myself." —Breegan Jane

Ask for help.

"I ask for help when I can, even if it's virtual support. Sometimes I will call my parents, sister, cousins, and friends and have them talk to my daughter over the phone for a bit just so I can get some housework done." —Ta'lor L. Pinkston

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