Coronavirus FAQs

Date last updated: 13 August 2020

Coronavirus FAQs for single parents

We are receiving a lot of questions from you all, through our helpline, online forum, and community groups. This page answers the most common questions. We will be answering more of these as we can, so please check back.

You can read our coronavirus page for more detailed information and links to further advice. You can also contact our free helpline for advice, but please understand we are receiving a lot of calls so it may take a long time to connect you.

Staying at home

Do I have to stay at home?

It’s very important that you stay at home as much as you can. There are only a few specific reasons to leave your home, including:

  • taking your child to school
  • moving your child between your home and their other parent’s home
  • for work, if you cannot work from home
  • going to shops to get things like food and medicine, or to collect things you’ve ordered
  • to exercise or spend time outdoors
  • for a medical reason
  • to provide care or help a vulnerable person
  • if it isn’t safe to stay in your home

Does having to stay at home affect my child seeing their other parent?

While you should stay at home as much as possible, you are allowed to move children between their parents’ homes.

  • However, this doesn’t mean that children must be moved between homes.
  • You should discuss the situation with your children’s other parent and use your own judgement to decide what is safest for your family.
  • If one parent isn’t able to see their children, the courts would expect alternative arrangements to be made, such as contact by phone or online.

Read the advice from the courts here.

You should not move children between your home and the other parent’s home if someone in either home has coronavirus symptoms. We also don’t recommend moving children between homes if anyone living at either home is in the most at risk group (sometimes called ‘shielded’), as this might put them at risk.

Do I need to self-isolate?

If you or your children have symptoms of coronavirus (a high temperature or a new, continuous cough), you may need to self-isolate. Use the 111 coronavirus service to find out what to do.

You should also self-isolate if you think you may have come into contact with some who has coronavirus.

Read the NHS self-isolation advice for more information.

If my child is with their other parent and they become ill, who do they isolate with?

If your child has coronavirus symptoms then the safest course of action is for them to isolate where they are.

If this isn’t possible, get them to a place they can be looked after with the minimum contact with other people possible.

Contact the NHS 111 online service for further advice.

I am not safe in my home. What can I do?

If you are experiencing domestic violence or abuse, please contact one of the organisations listed on this section of our website

If you are in need of help but you’re not able to speak, you can still let the police know you need help by calling 999 and then hitting 55. Read this guide for details.


I’ve heard some supermarkets won’t let parents in with their children. Is this true?

We’ve heard reports of some incidents where supermarket staff have told parents they can’t bring their children into the store because they are limiting shoppers to going in one at a time.

However, supermarkets are issuing statements to clarify the policy, saying that a parent on their own can still come in with their children. We recommend that you check your supermarket chain’s social media accounts for their latest statement on this, so that you can show this to a member of staff if there are any problems.

Keeping busy

Cognita has a list of things to do while schools are closed.

Can I do outdoor activities with children?

You and your children should follow the government guidance on staying at home. As part of this you and your children are allowed to do one form of exercise outside per day, such as a run, walk, or cycle.

When outside, you and your children should always try to keep 2 metres (3 steps) away from other people to avoid infection. When you get home you should wash your hands.

If you have your own garden, it is fine for you and your children to use it.

Looking after yourself

What can I do to stay active and healthy at home?

At times like these, it can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour which in turn can make you feel worse. It will help to stay as active as you can. There are simple things you can do to  that may help, such as:

  • Try easy exercises you can do at home. You can find a list of these on the NHS website.
  • Spend time doing things you enjoy – this might include reading, cooking, other indoor hobbies or listening to/watching favourite radio or TV programmes.
  • Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals and drink plenty of water.
  • Keep your windows open to let in fresh air, get some natural sunlight if you can, or get outside into the garden. You can also go for a walk outdoors if you stay more than 2 metres from others.

How can I look after my mental health while I am staying at home?

It’s totally normal and understandable to be struggling with your mental health during this difficult time.

At times of stress, we work better in company and with support. Try and keep in touch with your friends and family, by telephone, email or social media, or contact a helpline for emotional support.

At the same time, try to limit how much you watch the news or go on social media as this can be stressful and cause a lot of anxiety.

You can find a more detailed answer to this question on our coronavirus information page.