Of all the challenges that a single parent faces, finding themselves ill or injured is among the most difficult. In a conventional setup, such occurrences would usually be dealt with by the healthy parent taking on the bulk of the childcare duties while the other rested up. With no such option available, single parents find themselves having to make do the best that they can.
It’s tough enough coping with illness or injury in and of itself, but it’s even harder when you have the needs of your child to consider as well. The younger your children are when you are not at your best the less independent they are, and the more difficult it is. However, difficult is one thing – but it’s not impossible.
When you are healthy, there are plans you can put in place for the future to cover you for such an eventuality. As preparedness is perhaps the greatest gift to the single parent, this is definitely one area you’re not going to want to miss out in. The question is – what do you need to do?
1) Have A Defined Plan
Try and think through the most likely scenarios. There are two you need to be concerned with, primarily:
- A sustained period of illness. It could be the ‘flu, a bug that’s going around, or the development of a chronic condition. Dealing with illness means that you might be physically able to do some things, but it’s unlikely you will have your usual spark and verve. You may also find yourself having to cope with doctor and hospital visits, which can make life even more tricky at a time when you’re ill-prepared to cope with them.
- An injury to a part of your body. Try and plan in terms of how you would cope if you injured each limb, your back, and your neck – these are the most commonly injured areas of the body. Additional concerns involve potentially being in plaster and thus totally restricted. If you were injured due to the fault of someone else, you might also juggle your injury, childcare duties, and having to find a personal injury solicitor who can help you manage your claim.
While all of the above concerns might sound troubling, you can be ready for them if you construct an effective plan. Make sure you write down everything you need, then tuck it away for use if you fall under the weather.
Don’t treat illness and injury in the same way; you need a separate plan for each occurrence. Injury is likely to prohibit movement, but you won’t need to sleep more or struggle to help your kids with their homework. If you’re unwell, these become issues.
2) Calling In Backup
As part of each plan, you need to have an idea of who you would call for assistance. Maybe your parents are nearby or you have a friend you could contact. It’s a good idea to get their agreement beforehand; just ask if they’re willing in the event you need their help.
If there are no such options, then you’re going to need to look for professional assistance. This could be a registered childminder or daycare; something that will give you some breathing space and ease the parenting tasks. It’s also a good idea to have a stash of savings set aside should you need to go down this route; this means you’re not going to add worrying about money to your list of concerns also.
3) Use Child Gates
If you’re unwell or can’t really be as mobile as you normally would be, your kids safety is going to be paramount. The best way of handling this is with child gates. You can sit on the sofa with a mug of tea and lock off all of the areas of the house you don’t want your children venturing into – but the rest is fair game.
4) Useful Toys
It’s helpful to have a stash of time-consuming toys for your kids in the event you feel unwell. Keep these away from their usual collection, so they seem fresh and exciting – enough to divert attention from you. Puzzles make for good choices, as do a few choice movies and TV shows that are held back for times of ill health only.
5) Talk To Your Kids
If you’re not at your best, the most important thing is to talk to your kids and explain. They will be able to tell you’re not well anyway, so don’t complicate matters by adding confusion into the mix. Just explain what the issue is in child-friendly language and that you’re not going to be as you normally are for awhile, but emphasise it’s temporary.
It’s tough coping with ill health when you’re a single parent, but if you plan ahead and remain open with your kids, you’ll be back on your feet in no time.