A day in the life of lockdown – Alanna’s story

Posted 22 April 2020

I am a single mother to two hyperactive boys of four and seven and a feisty one-year-old girl. I am parenting 24/7 while managing court case number six in three years of a difficult divorce. Finances are difficult as we have to live on benefits. However, I have a positive can do attitude as this is the only way I’ve managed to survive!

It’s tough being a single parent. The impacts of COVID-19 make it even harder than usual. Gingerbread is needed now more than ever. Donate today to support our #SingleParentsEmergency appeal.

Before the coronavirus outbreak I was already wondering how I was going to cope, how I was going to manage to give all of my children what they need and grow them into rounded individuals without messing them up too  much. It already felt like an impossible task but now it feels totally unmanageable. I feel like I’ve gone from being a really good mum, to a good mum sometimes and now rubbish mum!

I’m desperately trying to keep my cool. I try not to pressure myself and lower my standards, but it’s hard, and the fact that we don’t know how long this is going to last makes it harder still. I keep telling myself ‘this is just a phase’, which is the catch phrase I’ve used to survive single parenting so far. And if that fails, I run to the bathroom, shut the door and roar!

The loose routine I’ve created is so important to the way I’m managing. Morning and afternoon coffee/tea breaks that the kids are learning to respect, a shower in the morning, all the kids in their rooms by 7.30 and exercise every day is helping me through difficult times.

I’m a single mother with three children of one, four and seven. Like many others throughout the lockdown we haven’t been able to get a grocery shopping delivery or a click and collect slot as I am not considered vulnerable enough. Therefore I’ve been left in a position wondering how I’m going to manage to feed my family and keep them safe.

I’ve had to take my three children to the shops where they run around touching things, putting their fingers up their noses and generally being kids. However much you try to tell a four and seven year old not to touch their faces, they do anyway, and trying to stop a teething one year old chewing everything including the shopping trolley is impossible. How can I protect them and myself? Supermarket deliveries should be available to us. This puts us all at serious risk.

Single parents often have underlying health conditions because they are so exhausted from parenting on their own and many have been on their own for years. This becomes stressful, and with young children you hardly ever sleep, both of which compromise your immune system.

I have three autoimmune disorders and my hair is falling out due to stress. Who looks after my children if I’m sick? Are they forced to stay with their father who is not allowed overnight contact?

It makes me angry when I see otherwise healthy people with family close by who qualify for delivery slots using up supermarket deliveries. It would be easy for someone to pick up a couple of bags of shopping for them to last the week. Why are they prioritized for the few available delivery spaces when there are other people like 24/7 single parents who are more in need?

Shopping for a family of four on a tight budget is a difficult task ordinarily, but much harder to orchestrate when someone else has to shop for you and make those last minute crucial discussions. The cost goes up and so does the stress. You and your children are left having to go without.

The usual bargains that I would hunt for are not now available to us. Having a delivery slot gives you more control of your budget as well as protecting you, your family, volunteers and everyone else from repeated exposure.

After weeks of contacting the supermarkets with no success the government assigned me a volunteer. She is a local lady who travels on foot, so she can only carry a couple of shopping bags at a time, meaning she has to go back and forth. This hasn’t been thought out and exposes the volunteer and everyone else to unnecessary exposure through repeated trips to shops.

It feels as if as usual single parents are the bottom of the pile and last to be considered. I’m hoping that writing this blog will help to voice many other people’s situations that are similar to mine and help their voices to be heard.

The impacts of COVID-19 make the job of being a single parent even harder than usual. Gingerbread’s vital services are needed now more than ever. Please donate today to support our #SingleParentsEmergency appeal.

3 comments on “A day in the life of lockdown – Alanna’s story

  1. I too am a single mum, 2 young children, the dad sexually abused one of the children, the other has court ordered contact, I have no family support. Work in a school, so I have to continue working and homeschooling my children (very thankful for my job though) I too have to go to the shops, have an immune system disease, am under incredible stress because the dad still wants to maintain the contact with child yet, he is not allowed to see me because of severe domestic abuse and my other child because of the sexual abuse. He has huge amounts of money, so can continue to financially abuse me, including having to go through solicitors for every abusive email he sends. My child who has contact is like a different child because he hasn’t seen him for a few weeks now, he hates having to go and is terrified of him… He had expressed this at school and to his play therapist. Now he isn’t at school, he had no contact with professionals who can see the massive change in him and to be honest, I’m terrified of everything going back to normal. So yes, being single and very much on your own not only brings physical challenges of not being able to do everything, but mentally is very very draining.

    1. Just to say that I hear you and do understand! I’m in the same boat, with a 4 year old, no support, and it has been difficult and challenging even without the pandemic. Right now, every single day seems like a fight. I didn’t feel so LONELY for a very long time.

  2. I really sympathise with your situation. I am a single mum of one 6 year old boy and even with just one it’s been really tricky. I’ve had to take him shopping with me but it’s really not ideal as children just don’t understand all the strict rules in supermarkets- standing two metres apart, following the one way system around Tesco’s etc. Some suggested I leave him in the car but I draw the line at doing that as not legal and would jeopardise his safety. Challenging times!

Write a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *