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.

8 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. Hi Kate,
      I read your post and I am in a similar situation to you. Are there any other forums/groups you are part of? I would like to speak to mums with shared experiences. Ta.

  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!

  3. I feel for all of you, it is so difficult and I am guessing there are so many others going through ridiculouly tough battles.
    I am also a single mum of very active 8 year old identical twin boys.
    They are my world but myself having numerous health conditions and managing daily fatigue and horrid pain , every day is beyond exhausting.
    I was in the middle of an access to uni course and then lockdown and having to try and get work done and try and study with the boys bouncing about and finding danger in anything they do and home school and the 10 zillion other jobs and activities I have to fit in and caring for my elderly dog and caring for my sick father who has been in hospital and now living on his own with no care apart from what I can provide , it is just too much..
    On top of all of that and just to add a bit more pressure , like I don’t quite have enough…!
    My ex pays me nothing towards the boys, they have been with me all the time since lockdown.
    We have been separated 5 years but still not divorced, he was abusive ,controlling , manipulative and deceitful and still is…
    I am now living in council property and he is in our owned marital home still but due to how poorly I was when we split and the ongoing health problems and having no family support or any support for that matter, I have not had the energy or finances to divorce him and get what is rightfully mine and what I worked damn hard for and finalise everything properly.
    I cannot wait for the day I can actually do that!
    He says that was my choice to keep the boys with me and he cannot see why I was wanting to protect them.
    He set up a hot tub business and fiddled his books to say he earns less than 7 quid a week to avoid maintenance and by doing so , he couldn’t claim from the government, so has been out renting hot tubs out all the way through this and paid 0 towards the boys and his partner works for tesco so what is the point of the boys and I being on full lockdown to send the boys to them and share their potential covid germs.
    He has the opportunity to work whenever he likes as I have the boys all the time .
    He had them 3 nights a week before lockdown but basically from 4pm tue and thurs till 8 am the next morning and 24 hours at the weekend on the dot!
    He now wants to see the boys for odd walks and leisure and pleasure but not contribute or support them in anyway…
    Give me a space rocket and let me blast out of this never ending nightmare..
    Just have to keep going but the whole experience has changed me .. I hope for the better eventually.
    Stronger, far more resilient and better at managing stupid people and crazy situations…
    Living on practically nothing but somehow keeping it altogether..
    When this ongoing nightmare finally ends for us all , I think I will feel rather proud of myself tbh !
    If someone told a few months before this all happened., that I would do all what I have done and what obstacles would be thrown at me , I would have said, no way!
    I would not be able to cope or sustain that..
    But here we are with gradual moves back to normality and a glimmer of hope for the kids to resume their normal daily lives and us grown ups too.
    I can say, I did that and I did it all by myself.
    That’s pretty cool I think!
    A very respectful nod and massive high five to all you other warrior ladies who are fighting with all their might to be the caring, hardworking and selfless beings you are ..
    Keep fighting the good fight!!
    We’ve got this;) xxx

  4. Similar to you all. I feel the pressures of lone parenting mentally and physically exhausting at times. After leaving an abusive relationship with my child’s father (no contact permitted), who continues to blight our lives through economic abuse – we are continually subject to the bias and inequalities of organisations who are suppose to protect our children. We are ignored and perceived as scroungers, but we battle on to do the best for our kids. You are all warriors, and as tough as it is, I wouldn’t trade it for the life I had before. Our kids will learn from our strength xxxx

  5. Snap. I have 3 children age 11, 9, 7 (Too young to leave at home safely for an hour or more) and don’t want to take them to the supermarket because of the queuing with fidgety children outside, them touching everything in the supermarket getting in peoples way etc. I’m lucky that I’ve a car and have managed to get a few click and collect shopping but at the start of this we had to go without some things because I didn’t feel I could go to supermarket . I split from their dad a few years ago and he’s not allowed unsupervised contact at present so I’m with them 24/7 which means I can’t afford to get really ill with this because there’s no one to look after the children and give them their medication my parents usually help but they’re in their seventies with heart conditions so wouldn’t be able to. It’s also very isolating being completely alone with children having to manage them as well as yourself

  6. As a fellow single mum I feel we don’t exist to the government right now. We couldn’t go and meet someone outside our household when it was allowed because we can’t go anywhere on our own. It is hard for some to meet people outside from tomorrow with young kids who can’t understand social distancing. I lost my job just before covid and I am struggling with the inflated supermarket prices. Keeping us safe, happy and entertained 24/7 is exhausting. Thank you for writing a blog that speaks to all of us.

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