• Many single parents became anxious about the welfare of their children amid the pandemic
  • Thoughts on what will happen to their children in case they test positive often arise
  • Experts shared how single parents can duly prepare if they get sick in this time of crisis

Neferteri Plessy, a single mom, has one constant thought racing through her mind recently. What would happen if she gets coronavirus and she will not be able to take care of her kids? Ms. Plessy is the founder of Single Moms Planet and the mother of two boys aged 13 and 10. In an interview with HuffPost, she said, “As a mother, I always think about the needs of my children.”

Recently, her thoughts have been more about the pandemic and what will happen to her boys if she’s not present. She told HuffPost her thoughts always dwell on the questions, “Who will take care of them? Where will they live? How will their financial needs be met?” The subject has always made her uneasy but with the pandemic, she has been thinking more about it. Ms. Plessy understood the importance of getting her personal affairs properly arranged in case she becomes ill or even die.

A Heartbreaking Goodbye

The stakes appear very high when reading stories about single parents stricken with COVID-19. One example is the story of Sundee Rutter. A 42-year-old mom of six and a stage-four breast cancer survivor, Ms. Rutter died from complications caused by COVID-19 in Washington State on March 16. According to reports, she bid her kids goodbye only through a walkie-talkie. “For single parents, it’s a reminder we must be prepared for what may lie ahead,” said Ms. Plessy.

While the situation may be scary for single parents, experts said planning ahead can remove some of the stress. These experts also shared what single or divorced parents can prepare in case they do get sick.

coronavirus guide for single parents saying goodbye and reaching out
coronavirus guide for single parents saying goodbye and reaching out Engin_Akyurt/Pixabay

When Symptoms Set In

If you are a single parent and you start feeling mild symptoms of COVID-19, you can stay at home but have to keep your distance away from your kids. According to Dr. Sachin Nagrani, unless your kids are having chemotherapy treatment or have asthma, you can take the same approach as you would with flu. Dr. Nagrani is a physician and the medical director for Heal, an online doctor house call service.

In an interview with HuffPost, Dr. Nagrani advised parents to isolate themselves as much as possible when at home, to sleep in a separate room, and to minimize close contact. The Heal medical director also said that parents have to wear a mask whenever in the same room with their children. “Disinfecting high-traffic areas such as bathroom and kitchen and door handles are important. Washing hands frequently is essential,” Dr. Nagrani said. He also told parents of infants or toddlers needing direct care that wearing masks and washing hands is the best line of defense.

Reach Out

If you are down with an illness, it is normal to have low energy. While you may want to do things on your own even if your energy is zapped, it is alright to call family or close friends for help. According to Dr. Marcus Plescia, you need not be afraid to reach out. “I get that it’s very challenging to isolate much if you are the only caregiver,” Dr. Plescia said. “But the reassuring news is that there seems to be very little or hardly any serious disease in children, so they are not at great risk,” he added.

Dr. Plescia is the chief medical officer for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. It is a non-profit organization representing public health bodies across the United States.

coronavirus guide for single parents when symptoms set in
coronavirus guide for single parents when symptoms set in Engin-Akyurt - Pixabay

Draw Up An Emergency Plan

The situation is different for every single parent. Some of them may be the principal caretaker but they also have parenting partners who are present in the lives of their children. If this is the case for you, then you can make an agreement about how to keep yourselves and the children from getting sick. If one of you becomes seriously ill, the other should take up the lead in parenting.

Some single parents prefer to live their lives without a co-parent or an ex-partner. If you belong to this category, you need to think as to who would be designated as a caregiver of your kids in case you are incapacitated.

According to Ann Margaret Carrozza, a New York estate planning attorney, you need to choose a legal guardian who can provide your kids with enough stability. “Close geographic proximity matters,” Ms. Carrozza said. She added, “Ask yourself: Would selecting this person allow my children to remain in the same school and not lose established friendships during a time of emotional upheaval?”

Ms. Carrozza also reminded single parents to accept that there is no perfect guardian. What you need to look for is someone who can treat your children with patience and warmth, while giving them space to have fun.

The estate attorney also has some advice for those who are finding it hard to select one person. Ms. Carrozza suggests opting for two “B+ candidates” and getting them to act together. She said that for instance, the kids may physically live with one legal guardian, but both elected guardians would take part in education and medical decisions.

Put Vital Estate-Planning Papers In Order

Life insurance may seem very reasonable for you particularly if the other parent of your kids is not in the picture. You may want to consider getting a term life insurance, the kind that features coverage for a definite period, which can be anywhere between 20 and 30 years. Insurance agents may try to convince you to get a whole life insurance policy instead but you must remember that term life insurance policies are much cheaper.

In an interview with HuffPost, David Bross, an estate planning specialist, said that single parents should think about arranging three big estate-planning papers. These are the financial power of attorney or FPOA, health care power of attorney or HCPOA, and a living will.

According to Bross, FPOA is a legal document granting the agent authority to take care of the principal’s financial affairs and protect their assets by acting on their behalf. “The FPOA gives the agent the ability to pay bills, write checks, make deposits, sell or purchase assets or sign any tax returns,” said Bross. HCPOA, on the other hand, is a legal document granting authority to an agent to decide on healthcare matters on your behalf in case you become incapacitated to do so.

coronavirus guide for single parents put essential papers in order
coronavirus guide for single parents put essential papers in order Engin Akyurt - Pixabay

A living will, according to Bross, is a legal document allowing you to stipulate as to what type of end-of-life treatment you prefer. The document can also stipulate if you do not want to continue treatment in case you become critically ill or have become permanently unconscious without any chance of survival.

“Without a living will, the decision to remove life support is left in the hands of your health care agent or family members. This can be a very emotional decision for family members. By creating a living will, you set forth your wishes and take that decision out of your family member’s hands,” Bross said.

Stress Management And Being Careful

While you must identify those who can act as emergency caregivers for your kids and prepare vital documents, it is equally vital you manage your stress. Try not to be overly anxious about what could happen. Instead, give your attention to what can be controlled in this situation.

What is important now is for you to keep your kids healthy and safe. You must also give emphasis on self-care and health practice. This means you need to ensure you eat well, have adequate rest, and exercise regularly. You should also thoroughly wash your hands often, particularly after going out.

For situations you cannot control, such as being financially stressed and feeling isolated or potentially catching COVID-19, you must learn to accept the unknown and uneasy feelings that accompany them. This is according to Wellspace SF clinical psychologist Gina Delucca.

In an interview with HuffPost, Delucca said, “Know that your feelings are normal and valid and that it’s OK to feel whatever you’re feeling.” The clinical psychologist also reminded single parents to keep in mind that the things happening today are all temporary. “…try to find comfort in knowing that we are all going through these tough times of uncertainty together,” Delucca said.