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4 Ways You Can Help The Single Parents In Your Life During The Pandemic

 Being a single parent is difficult, but it's actually pretty common across the United States. With 40 to 50% of all American marriages ending in divorce, the reality is that a lot of parents end up doing it alone, at least part of the time. There are certainly different "degrees" of being a single parent. Some single parents split custody of their kids with their exes 50/50, which means that they each parent the children equally, but largely separately. Others have custody agreements that give more custody, or even primary custody to one parent while the other is present, but for less of the time. Unfortunately, some single parents are completely on their own, whether that's due to the fact that the other parent chooses to stay out of their children's lives or is otherwise unavailable, or due to tragedy. But no matter what, every single parent is going to need help at some point or another, simply because they're juggling things that parents who constantly have a partner often have help with.

If you have a friend or relative who is a single parent, you've probably noticed that the pandemic has made small problems a bit bigger. Indeed, everyone, especially parents, is dealing with issues that may not have existed prior to the pandemic. We all need an extra bit of help. So, how can you support your loved ones who are single parents during the pandemic? Let's find out.

1. Offer Pandemic-Friendly Babysitting

We're all doing our very best to help each other throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there is a bit of an obstacle that comes up under many circumstances. We're supposed to be social distancing, and anyone could potentially be carrying the COVID-19 virus without showing symptoms. Now, a lot of single parents are either working from home or going to the workplace, while their children are still going to virtual school. This means that, regardless of the pandemic, they'll probably need babysitting services at one point or another. Fortunately, there are ways that you can babysit while still keeping yourself and your family safe. If you and your loved one are in close proximity to each other anyway and are constantly within one another's circles already, you may not need to worry about social distancing quite as much as this won't be introducing you or others to new people, which is what social distancing is really meant to prevent. Mom friends have stretched to create new ways to watch each other's kids, with a few examples following. You could watch your friend's children from a distance, having them play in the backyard while you watch from six feet away; you could also, as some mothers have, park in the garage or driveway while using a monitor to keep an eye on them, only going inside if an emergency happens. Of course, don't go too far. If you or any of the kids you might be babysitting experience symptoms reminiscent of COVID-19, it's better safe than sorry. Don't risk exposing anyone to the virus in order to do a friend a favor.

2. Help Pick Up Groceries

It can be so difficult for single parents to get the most basic things done during the pandemic. They have to balance being there for their children, working, and accomplishing basic chores and tasks that we all deal with. A big way to help a friend is to offer to grab groceries for them. You can do this in one of two ways. You can either go to pick up groceries as you always would, or you can take a more pandemic-conscious approach and order the groceries ahead of time. This will still save your loved one from doing a lot of extra work, as you'll both accomplish the shopping online, and drive up to the grocery store. However, you won't have to risk walking around the store yourself, and can simply have the groceries loaded into your car. If you want to go the extra mile, you can even unpack the groceries and put them away for your loved one. But every bit of help is significant for a single parent, especially during the pandemic.

3. Donate Toys

It can be so difficult to keep kids entertained, especially during the pandemic when they're spending more time at home than ever before. A lot of people find themselves dealing with the fact that their children, once finished with school, are being forced to stay at home, only communicating with their friends virtually. This can cause a lot of built-up frustration for parents and children alike, regardless of their ages. It's especially difficult for children that are in between that toddlerhood and school age. While normally we would rely on preschools to give them something to do, with 87% of American five-year-olds being enrolled in preprimary programs like preschools in 2015, this isn't as safe or even as accessible during the pandemic. Therefore, donating toys to your loved one, especially open-ended toys that keep kids occupied for potentially hours, is a major help. Think about toys like LEGOs, or even science experiment-based toys like slime kits.

4. Treat Them To A Streaming Subscription

A streaming subscription may not seem like a big deal to you, but it can mean a lot to a single parent. There are around 13.7 million single parents in the United States according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and these people are typically dependent on one paycheck. At most, they may get extra help from alimony or child support, but even this isn't always the case. These single parents don't often have the extra money for a streaming service subscription. Not only can a streaming service help occupy the kids for a bit; it can also offer your loved one with an outlet to help them wind down. It could be a great, simple gift that keeps on giving for months.

Single parents don't expect help, but receiving even a little bit of help here and there makes a big difference. If you can, offer that bit of help yourself. You'll feel great after you do!


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