An article on The Focus back in May celebrated the changes this strange new world affords us – a slower pace of life, special attention for those who need support and the positive aspects of families spending more quality time with each other, whether that’s in the home, out for leisurely walks or a couple taking up a new sport to quash the boredom.

All very healthy and heartwarming, but at the time, it made me want to scream.

As a single parent, lock-down was the stuff of nightmares. I have, literally, been to therapy to deal with the anxiety that is fuelled by my solo parenting responsibilities and the loneliness that follows. I heavily rely on friends and family to keep me company and lend a hand with the two little people that dominate my life so when that comfort blanket was suddenly stripped away, I certainly experienced more than a mild panic. Add that to the panic an actual pandemic also brings and I was in a bad way.

Rebecca with her twin sons (@r_smith_photography)

Whilst I bemoan my single parent status, I know I have it better than others. I moved in with my parents for the majority of lock-down, allowing me the freedom to continue to work and also manage childcare. We had a large garden at our disposal and plenty of countryside to burn off some steam. My children’s father was able to continue seeing them at weekends. But what of those families in tower blocks, crammed into a small space with no escape? What of the multiple single parents who don’t have family to move in with, or have no contact with ex partners and simply had to cope alone, potentially holding down a job and home-schooling? Or even being on furlough and entertaining X number of children solo.

My fear is Lock-down 2.0 – The Winter Edition.

It gives me heart palpitations to even consider that a possibility but I think it’s highly likely. I worry for my own sanity and that of others less fortunate than me.

There have been some great feats of ingenuity in the restaurant and pub trade – businesses staying open and offering delivery, pubs selling eggs and flour and other store cupboard essentials instead of booze (or even takeaway booze in some cases). How can we employ some of that ingenuity for struggling families, single or even dual parent versions? I have no doubt that lock-down with kids was also tough on traditional two-parent families, believe me.

Thankfully, we live in a digital age and, should the lock-down scenario be replayed later in the year, I implore you to reach out to anyone home alone with children. Of course, how you can help them might be limited, but perhaps a virtual board game with older kids, or setting up a laptop to read a story to a young baby so the parent can just sit and listen and get five minutes’ peace?

I think the solution for each family will be different, but whatever it is, I know that parent will be eternally grateful for your support.

Images: @r_smith_photography 

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